(CNSNews.com) - A minor provision of Georgia's new election integrity law is being mocked -- and misrepresented -- by critics all the way up to the president of the United States.
On Friday, President Biden told reporters that Georgia "passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote. You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can't provide water for people about to vote? Give me a break."
But that's not what the law says.
No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector [a voter], nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast:
(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established;
(2) Within any polling place; or
(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.
A footnote on page 71 of the bill says: "This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer ... from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote."
The provision is intended to prevent political partisans from approaching waiting voters, handing them water, or food, or gifts, or whatever -- then urging them to vote for so-and-so. That is called voter solicitation.
But clearly, the goal of Georgia law is not to prevent thirsty voters from helping themselves to water, if it's available; or if they can't plan ahead and bring their own.
On Saturday, Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said the real concern is not denial of water -- it's lines long enough to parch waiting voters.
Kemp said people "should be asking, why am I standing in line that long to start with?"
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, every state places some restrictions of political activities near polling places when voting is taking place.
Twenty-eight states prohibit influencing voters/soliciting votes/political persuasion.