76% of Georgia Voters Think It Shouldn't Be a Crime to Give Voters Food and Water While on Line

A majority of voters in Georgia oppose a provision in the recently signed election bill that makes it a crime to provide food and water to voters while they are waiting in line to cast their ballot, according to a new poll.

The poll, which as conducted by Target Smart, found that 76 percent of voters in the state said they oppose the provision, including 83 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans.

Another change under the bill strips the secretary of state's authority as the chair of the state's election board and instead allows the Republican-controlled legislature to elect a chair through a majority vote. In Georgia, the legislature already elects two of the five voting members to the election board, and the change now gives it three members.

Under the bill, the election board will also have authority to temporarily remove local election officials and replace them with its own appointees. The poll found that 76 percent of Georgia residents oppose the change, including 82 percent of Democrats.

Other changes in the bill include limiting the number of ballot drop boxes in the state, requiring residents to provide a photo ID to vote by mail and decreases the time residents have to request an absentee ballot.

According to the poll, 60 percent said they oppose shortening the time period in which voters in the state can request an absentee ballot, including 83 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Republicans. The poll also found that 59 percent of respondents opposed the election bill change that limits mail ballot drop boxes across the state.

Georgia Election Bill
Demonstrators stand outside of the Georgia state Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta. HB531 will restrict early voting hours, remove drop boxes, and require the use of a government ID when voting by mail. Megan Varner/Getty

The poll's findings come shortly after Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill on Thursday after it passing along party lines in the state Senate, 34-20, and in the House, 100-75. The Georgia bill is part of a Republican-led effort to change election laws following the 2020 presidential election.

"After the November election last year, I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed," Kemp said during a press conference on Thursday. "When voting in person in the state of Georgia, you must have a photo ID. It only makes sense for the same standard to apply to absentee ballots as well."

In a statement sent to Newsweek via email, Kemp's press secretary, Mallory Blount, wrote, "For over 10 years, Governor Kemp has led the fight to ensure that elections in Georgia are safe, accessible, and fair.

"The Governor was proud to sign S.B. 202 to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in the Peach State," the email said.

Shortly after Kemp signed the bill into law, he was met with criticism by many, including President Joe Biden.

"The Republican voters I know find this despicable, Republican voters, the folks outside this White House. I'm not talking about the elected officials. I'm talking about voters," Biden said during his first presidential press conference on Thursday.

Biden also issued a statement on Friday, when he wrote that the bill "is Jim Crow in the 21st Century."

"It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act. I once again urge Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to make it easier for all eligible Americans access the ballot box and prevent attacks on the sacred right to vote," Biden's statement added.

In addition to the criticism from Biden, Kemp also faced protests from many across the state, including state Representative Park Cannon, who was arrested after interrupting Kemp's livestream while signing the bill.