Georgia’s new electoral law has received international attention, particularly because it bans people from distributing water or food to people waiting in line to vote.
But how does it compare to other states, including North Carolina?
Georgian law prohibits anyone from distributing water or food within 150 feet of a polling station or within 25 feet of someone waiting in line to vote.
People can bring their own food and water to vote, and the law explicitly allows third groups to deliver bottled water to polling stations. However, the water must be given to election workers who will then distribute it on a self-service basis.
Gerry Cohen, a former North Carolina General Assembly attorney, says a careful reading of the Georgia statute would literally mean that if your grandparents were in line, you couldn’t bring them a bottle of water or if there was someone to do it is in a diabetic coma, they couldn’t be brought a pack of crackers. “
A Georgia electoral officer who spoke to the WFAE on condition of anonymity for not having the authority to keep files said “no one is trying to test voters’ perseverance” and the intention is not to prevent a family member from doing so to bring someone water.
The official said there were cases in last year’s election where a lawmaker poured water in his campaign t-shirt, prompting the change.
Georgia has a society.
Montana prohibits people from serving food and water on election day, but that is limited to one candidate or people who work for a candidate. New York prohibits the distribution of “meat, drink, tobacco, refreshments, or groceries” unless the person serving it is not a candidate or employee and it is worth less than a dollar.
North Carolina has a 50-foot buffer around polling stations.
State law says: “No person or group of people shall be allowed to hang around the polling station, assemble, distribute campaign material, or conduct elections or within 50 feet of any direction of the entrance or vote while the election is open on the day of the area code or election the entrances to the building in which the voting site is located. “
This means that a person wearing a campaign t-shirt is not allowed to disperse water within the 50-foot buffer. That would be seen as an “election campaign”.
But a person with no formal attachment to a candidate could likely be dispensing water as long as it is not viewed as an election campaign. And a family member or friend of someone in line might bring someone water too.
State law specifies more precisely who can be inside the actual polling station. That list includes election workers, police officers, and voters. It doesn’t allow people to distribute water.
The state mentions the ban on the giving of food and drink as part of a law of 1801 regulating elections to the General Assembly. It is said that no one dealing with anyone in the legislature can give “any reward or entertainment of meat or drink” to influence their vote in the elections.
Cohen said it came from late 17th century British law.
“Candidates under this 1696 law had huge banquets serving meat and drinks,” he said. “Think of the classic thing where the king eats the meat off a bone and tosses it behind him.”
This story originally appeared in the WFAE’s weekly Inside Politics With Steve Harrison newsletter. Sign up here to get the latest political news delivered to your inbox.