Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has taken action to crack down on political organizations and advocacy groups that use "line warming" as a loophole to conduct political activity in violation of state law.
Secretary Raffensperger sent out an Official Elections Bulletin (OEB) reminding county elections officials to enforce the buffer zone outside of polling locations and near voters in line to cast their ballot in order to ensure voters can cast their ballots without political interference or harassment.
"The right to vote is sacred and fundamental to our democracy, and I am committed to upholding that right for all Georgians," said Secretary Raffensperger. "Political organizations looking to game the system should be forewarned that we will not tolerate efforts to electioneer near polling sites in violation of the law."
Political organizations or advocacy groups will use the giveaways or gifts, known as "line warming," to inappropriately influence voters in the crucial final moments before they cast their ballots. Such efforts violate the protections Georgia law has placed on campaigning near a polling location or voting line and the prohibitions on providing rewards to voters that were enacted to stop pay-for-vote schemes.
To ensure voters are able to cast their ballots without being subject to illegal electioneering, Secretary Raffensperger sent out an Official Election Bulletin (OEB) reminding elections officials that Georgia law establishes a buffer zone around polling locations to "create an atmosphere of calm and non-interference for voters who are contemplating exercising one of their most basic constitutional rights." Georgia law prohibits individuals from soliciting votes within 150 feet of a polling location or within 25 feet of a voter standing in line to cast their ballot (OCGA § 21-2-414).
The bulletin also reminds elections officials that offering food, drinks, or other items of value to voters waiting in line or those who have already voted is forbidden under Georgia law (OCGA § 21-2-570). Georgia law explicitly states that "Any person who gives or receives, offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony."