ATLANTA (AP) — A choose has declined to dam a bit of a Georgia election legislation that bans handing out food and water to voters ready in line.
The provision is a part of a sweeping elections overhaul handed by Georgia lawmakers final yr. Voting rights teams, who’ve filed a lawsuit difficult a number of elements of the legislation, argued that the supply infringes their free speech rights and needs to be instantly blocked whereas the case is pending.
The 74-page order, which was issued Thursday, implies that the supply will stay in impact for the carefully watched November basic election. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is locked in a rematch with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, whereas Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is attempting to fend off a problem from Republican Herschel Walker.
The state had argued that the supply was vital to guard towards situations at polling locations that might elevate worries over potential unlawful campaigning or vote shopping for. State legal professionals additionally argued it was too near the upcoming election to make adjustments.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee mentioned the voting rights teams might in the end prevail on a part of their problem, however he agreed with the state that it’s too near the election to dam any a part of the supply. He famous that requiring totally different guidelines for the final election than these in place for the primaries earlier this yr might trigger confusion for election employees.
Boulee mentioned that voting rights teams had failed to point out that prohibiting the distribution of meals and drinks inside 150 ft (45 meters) of a polling place violates their constitutional rights. But he mentioned that one other a part of the supply that bars folks from providing foods and drinks inside 25 ft (7.6 meters) of any individual in line might be unconstitutional as a result of that zone is tied to the situation of voters and will stretch hundreds of ft from the polling place.
The voting rights teams expressed disappointment with Boulee’s ruling however mentioned they’ll proceed to battle.
“While Georgia’s cruel ban on line relief stands for now, we look forward to presenting our broader case against SB 202 at trial, where we will prove that many provisions in the legislation violate federal law and the Constitution,” mentioned ACLU of Georgia voting rights legal professional Rahul Garabadu.
Republicans have mentioned excessive turnout and brief strains on this yr’s major elections present that the brand new legislation doesn’t discourage or limit voting. But critics say it disproportionately impacts marginalized voters, and lots of Democrats have pledged to roll it again.
The U.S. Justice Department has additionally filed a lawsuit alleging that the 98-page Georgia voting legislation is racially discriminatory, however it was not a part of the request to right away block the meals and water provision.