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County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside Will Not Enforce Food and Water Ban in Georgia Voting Law

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Democratic Gwinnett County Solicitor-General Brian Whiteside has said that he won’t enforce a part of Georgia’s new voting law which makes it illegal to give food or water to anyone waiting in line to vote.

“There’s no rational basis for the law,” Whiteside told MSNBC host Ari Melber on the Tuesday installment of The Beat. “Pursuant to a criminal law, there has to be a basis that there’s going to be harm to a party or to property. There’s no harm in someone being humane.”

In other words, Whiteside said he won’t enforce the law because he considers it inhumane and doesn’t believe it furthers any legitimate government interest.

“I take an oath to seek justice,” Whiteside told Melber. “It would be unjust for a police officer to arrest someone for merely giving someone some type of nutrition or hydration.”

Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside has said that he will not enforce a part of Georgia’s new voting law which would charge people with a misdemeanor if they provide food, water or any drink to someone waiting in line to vote. In this photo, Vote.org food trucks deliver tacos and water to voters in line on Election Day on November 03, 2020.
Rodrigo Varela/Getty

Georgia’s new voting law makes it a misdemeanor to give food or water to any voters within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter near a polling site.

The law’s supporters say that it will prevent partisan organizations from influencing voters. Whiteside told Melber that as long as the groups providing the food and water aren’t partisan, he sees no harm in it.

In an interview with WSB-TV reporter Tyisha Fernandes, Whiteside questioned the intelligence behind the law.

“When you think about this law: You would have to put someone in handcuffs and then you would have to confiscate the bottle of water, subpoena the person getting the water, show up in court and say, ‘Your Honor, I’m here for someone being arrested for giving a bottle of water. Exhibit A, bottle of water.’ How stupid are these people making the laws?” Whiteside said.

Regardless, officials from the state board of elections told WGAU that it will investigate complaints of anyone breaking the law. The investigation could result in prosecution, the board added.

Whiteside isn’t the only local government official pushing back against Georgia’s new voting law though.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she would order her Chief Equity Officer to spearhead a multi-prong effort to “ensure every Atlanta resident has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”

The effort will train city staff members on the different types of voting and how to register for early, absentee and in-person voting. It will also coordinate with city departments, corporations and community partners to regularly inform city residents about important voting deadlines and other announcements.

“The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta resident, particularly in communities of color and other minority groups,” Bottoms said. “This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not: expand access to our right to vote.”

The Liberty Buzz contacted Whiteside’s office for comment.

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