Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday voters waiting in line in Georgia could order food from Grubhub or UberEats after a new state law criminalized offers of free food and water near polling stations.
“They can order a pizza,” Kemp said on the conservative cable news network Newsmax. “They can order Grubhub or UberEats, right?”
A new law in the state, pushed by Republicans who have echoed former President Donald Trump’s false assertions of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections, makes sweeping changes to election rules in Georgia. Among the law’s provisions is a rule barring anyone other than election workers from offering food or water to voters within 150 feet of a polling place.
That provision, which makes it a misdemeanor to hand out food or water, has become a symbol of Democratic complaints about the law’s broader provisions, which make it more difficult to vote absentee; curtail voting access in Democratic-learning urban and suburban counties while promoting it in rural areas that favor the GOP; and give Republican politicians sweeping power over the state’s elections.
Long lines to vote are common in metro Atlanta, the center of Democratic power in the state, where a rapidly growing and diversifying population means the number of voters assigned to some polling places has doubled since the beginning of the last decade. In the interview, Kemp blamed county governments ― many of which are run by Democrats ― for those long lines.
“They need to do a better job of running their elections and moving people through the lines, so they’re not standing out there so long,” Kemp said.
Long lines can deter voters. A study from the Bipartisan Policy Center found over half a million eligible voters did not cast a ballot in 2016 due to long lines and other polling place management errors. And facing long lines once can deter voters from coming back to cast their ballots in the future.
Democrats, up to and including President Joe Biden, have attacked the law as a return of the Jim Crow provisions that successfully limited Black Americans’ participation in Southern politics for nearly a century. Major companies in Georgia, including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have condemned the law, and Major League Baseball announced last week it is moving the league’s All-Star Game to Denver. (Colorado, which mails a ballot to every registered voter in the state, has some of the nation’s most voter-friendly election laws.)
Kemp said Major League Baseball and other companies have ”caved to the mob.”
Kemp is up for reelection in 2022. Former state Sen. Vernon Jones, a Democrat who switched parties and endorsed Trump in 2020, is considering challenging him in the GOP primary. Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, whom Kemp narrowly beat in 2018, is expected to be the Democratic nominee.
After Kemp’s narrow win in 2018, Democrats broke through in 2020. Biden narrowly won the state on Election Day, then Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock claimed both of the state’s Senate seats in a pair of January runoff elections.
During the runoff elections, Trump repeatedly attacked Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for failing to overturn Biden’s narrow win. Trump has already endorsed Rep. Jody Hice as a primary challenger to Raffensperger, and has suggested he will support an intra-party challenge to Kemp as well.