No food or water for Georgia voters: Judge upholds law that would ‘deny help to voters’ in line

In his ruling, Boulee writes that the “sanctity of the [voting] precinct was … brought into sharp focus in 2020, with many groups approaching electors while they waited in line.” He adds that the “legislature further found that [p]rotecting electors from improper interference, political pressure, or intimidation while waiting in line to vote is of paramount importance to protecting the election system and ensuring elector confidence.”

Voting rights activists have long argued that the provision in the 2021 law that prohibits food or water from being handed out to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or 25 feet from where any voter is standing in line should be erased.

Jess Unger, staff attorney for the Power and Democracy program at the Advancement Project National Office, tells WRDW that the provision disproportionately “impacts communities of color in Georgia,” who he says have “historically faced some of the longest waiting times at the ballot box in the country.”

“When voters are brought food and water by volunteers or community leaders, they understand this to be a message of unconditional support, gratitude, and shared strength,” Unger said. “It helps them stay in line and participate in the political process. To deny help to voters experiencing fatigue and hunger while waiting in hours-long lines is simply antithetical to the practice of democracy.”

Boulee has previously upheld the Georgia election law’s limits on mass mailings of absentee ballot application forms by advocacy organizations, as well as the requirement that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before Election Day, the AJC reports.

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