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Georgia passed a law in 2021 that makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, to give water to voters within 150 feet of a polling place.
For more than a week before Election Day, a commercial has warned Georgians against giving water to voters waiting outside polling places to cast their ballots.
"Do you live in Georgia? Do you have to drink water to stay alive? Do you want to participate in democracy? Too bad!" says the narrator in the 90-second video from canned water company Liquid Death. "Because thanks to new laws in the great state of Georgia, it's now illegal to give people water within 150 feet of a polling place."
An image shows text of a Georgia law known as SB 202.
The narrator also suggests that voters might have to wait in line outside polling places for as long as eight hours. But "helping people murder their thirst in line is so illegal, it’s now punishable by up to a year in prison. Wow!"
The commercial hawks a "Georgia Election Hydration Kit," including a can of the company’s water, at a cost of $1 for Georgia residents. The California company’s website shows the kits as sold out.
The ad also refers viewers to Headcount.org, a nonpartisan voter registration organization.
The commercial’s two-part claim — that it's "illegal to give people water within 150 feet of a polling place" and doing so is "punishable by up to a year in prison" — is accurate.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is running for re-election against Democrat Stacey Abrams, signed SB 202 in March 2021. At the time, he said the law would "ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair and accessible." The law includes several provisions, including changes in voting by mail that could reduce access while also expanding early voting access.
But the section on food and drinks for people in line has received some of the most outside attention. Here is the section of the law that addresses water and says no person shall "participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, 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."
It is a misdemeanor to violate the law, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Under the law, poll workers are allowed to make available "self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote."
For years, voting rights advocates organized efforts to give away bottles of water or food near voting sites where residents sometimes waited in line for hours to vote. Voters in majority Black neighborhoods have had disproportionate waiting times. In the state’s June 2020 primary election, voters waited in line for hours to cast a ballot, NPR reported that fall.
Mike Hassinger, an elections spokesperson for Georgia’s secretary of state, said long waits are no longer the case.
On the most recent general election day, Nov. 3, 2020, "the longest any voter anywhere in Georgia waited to vote was 40 minutes, and the average wait time for the state was three minutes," he said.
Andy Pearson, Liquid Death’s vice president of creative, said Headcount.org asked his company for a donation but Liquid Death decided to do an ad, to raise awareness, and to donate water. Although the law applies only to Georgia, Pearson said, "it has repercussions nationwide if laws like this continue to get passed elsewhere." He also said the company sold hundreds of the "Georgia Election Hydration" kits before running out.
The Liquid Death beverage company said in an ad that in Georgia, it's "illegal to give people water within 150 feet of a polling place" and "punishable by up to a year in prison."
A 2021 Georgia law does prohibit people from giving water within 150 feet of a polling place, and violators face up to 12 months in jail.
We rate the statement True.
RELATED: Georgia fact-checks
YouTube, Liquid Death "Liquid Death Georgia Election Hydration Kit Commercial," Oct. 27, 2022
Twitter, Liquid Death Mountain Water tweet, Oct. 27, 2022
LiquidDeath.com, "Georgia Election Hydration Kit" offer, accessed Nov. 7, 2022
Email, Mike Hassinger, elections spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State, Nov. 7, 2022
PolitiFact, "The facts about Georgia’s ban on food, water giveaways to voters," March 29, 2021
PolitiFact, "Georgia bill would ban giving food, water to voters in line," March 9, 2021
FactCheck.org, "FactChecking Claims About the Georgia Voting Law," April 16, 2021
CNN, "Fact check: What the new Georgia elections law actually does," March 31, 2021
Fast Company, "Liquid Death’s latest ad takes aim at Georgia’s absurd voting law," Oct. 29, 2022
The Guardian, "Georgia voters face long waits as early voting begins in pivotal elections," Oct. 1, 2022
Fox 5 Atlanta, "Long lines on the last day of early voting in Georgia," Nov. 4, 2022
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