Georgia bans giving water to voters in line under sweeping restrictions

The Georgia law will make it a misdemeanor crime to give food or drinks to voters waiting in long lines. It also will set up a fraud hotline, forbid local county elections offices from taking breaks while counting ballots and shorten the runoff election cycle from nine weeks to four weeks. It will allow the state election board the power to replace local county election boards and permit challenges to voting eligibility.

Early versions of the legislation sought to limit Sunday voting, which would have curtailed traditional “Souls to the Polls” voter turnout programs popular in Black churches. Those days were restored after Democrats pushed back, and additional Saturday voting days also were included – provisions Republicans cited as examples of the law making voting more accessible.

But Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, said the law “attacks absentee voting, criminalizes giving Georgians a drink of water to their neighbors (and) allows state takeover of county elections.”