House Democrats vow to hand out water to Georgia voters after GOP makes it a crime

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Three Democratic House members said they are prepared to get arrested to protest what they called a 'stupid law.'

Georgia Republicans on Thursday passed a sweeping voter suppression law that, among other things, makes it a crime to hand out food and drink to voters in line to cast their ballot.

In protest of the law, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said they will go to Georgia on Election Day next year to hand out water bottles to voters in protest of the new law.

"Well guess I am gonna get arrested to protest this stupid law," Gallego tweeted late Thursday night, after the law passed.

"Dear @GovKemp: Next year, Congressman @RubenGallego and I are going to provide water to GA voters waiting in lines caused by your voter suppression law," Lieu tweeted. "My sense is many, many people will be providing water to voters. Because your law is unAmerican and insane."

Swalwell suggested he is in too, tweeting "Ted, do you and @RubenGallego have room for one more?"

Language to make it a crime to hand out food and drinks to voters waiting in line was first introduced into a bill Georgia state House Republicans passed in early March.

That bill had other voter suppression tactics within it, such as slashing the number of early voting Sundays.

The legislation that GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law on Thursday had changes from the initial state House-passed bill — including removing the provision that cut back on Sunday early voting days — after an outcry from the business community in the state. But the food and drink provision remained in the legislation Kemp signed behind closed doors.

Under the law, it is now a misdemeanor to "give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink" within "25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place."

In the first days of the early voting period in the 2020 general election in Georgia, some voters waited as long as 10 hours in line to cast their ballots.

In response, nonpartisan groups like Pizza to the Polls sent hundreds of free pizzas to voters waiting in lines to vote in Georgia's Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections — in which now-Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock unseated Georgia's two GOP senators.

Pizza to the Polls program director Amirah Noaman said the group doesn't know if it can continue to operate in Georgia following the passage of the new law.

"Fundamentally, we do not know how this will affect our operations in Georgia, but we are disappointed that it may be more difficult to feed people and ease the burden of being in a long line as they engage in civic activities," Noaman told the American Independent Foundation. "Ultimately, the issue is that long lines exist in the first place, and eliminating that should be a priority over removing the option of food and beverages being distributed."

It's also unclear whether this law will still be in place for the next election.

Civil rights groups have already filed a lawsuit against the law in federal court, saying it is a violation of the Constitution's equal protection clause, as well as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

President Joe Biden on Friday commented on the law that makes passing out food and water to voters waiting in line, saying it's an "atrocity."

"You can't provide water to people standing on line and waiting to vote?" Biden told reporters. "We don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive and designed to keep people from voting"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.