Ossoff introduces bill reversing Ga. law making it illegal to give voters water

Jon Osshoff's proposal may be incorporated into the For The People Act, the election reform bill now pending in the Senate.

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Senator Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced a bill in Congress yesterday that would roll back new state legislation that made it a crime for volunteers and organizations to give water or refreshments to people waiting in line to vote.

Voters in the state experienced wait times exceeding three hours in many areas. Community organizations frequently distributed snacks and water to those intending to cast ballots. Legislation signed into law by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last month made it a crime to distribute refreshments to anyone standing within 150 feet of a polling place.

Democratic Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights last month on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images)

The change to the law has been a major source of contention with voters’ rights advocates.

“This is about decency — basic decency. This is about the health and well-being of a senior citizen who’s being made to wait six hours in line to vote and allowing a volunteer to hand that senior citizen a bottle of water without facing up to a year in jail,” Ossoff said during a press conference on a Zoom call.

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His proposal may be incorporated into the For The People Act, the election redistricting and campaign finance bill currently pending in the U.S. Senate.

Kemp and other Georgia Republicans claimed the distribution of refreshments could sway voters and be viewed as lobbying. In Ossoff’s federal bill, the act would be legal as long as those distributing the goods are not engaging in political activity and are offering refreshment to every voter.

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The tightening of voting laws in Georgia has been decried as racist. More than 40 states have passed or initiated changes in their voting laws following “The Big Lie” GOPers are pushing that insists the 2020 presidential election was somehow stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Democratic state lawmaker Park Cannon was arrested after knocking on the door of the governor’s office to witness the signing of the bill into law. Charges were dropped last month.

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