May 10, 2021

Georgia’s new voting bill has been heavily debated online, but one piece of the bill that seemed to stir up the most controversy was a provision that bans giving away water or food to voters within a certain distance of polling sites.

While President Joe Biden has criticized the Republican-led measure, Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official, said in an interview that this is actually the same law that’s in place in Biden’s home state of Delaware. But is that really the case? Here’s how we fact-checked it.

Try a keyword search

According to BBC, under this new reform, while poll workers are still allowed to give away water, other people will have to follow new restrictions. According to the article, the law makes it an offense to give away food or water within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter in line.

Democrats say that this will affect Black voters, since long waits are common in areas with larger Black populations due to fewer polling stations. Republicans argue this will limit possible interference before people cast their vote. But is this also the case in Delaware?

Doing another keyword search with the words “Gabriel Sterling, Georgia vs Delaware Voting Laws water and food,” one result that came up was this article from The Washington Post.

According to the article, Delaware does not explicitly prohibit food or water. However, Delaware does prohibit giving gifts of any value to voters. The article states that it’s actually just New York and Montana that have explicit rules about food and water.

Try a skill called “reading upstream”

The Washington Post included a link to the election code in Delaware, so I clicked on that. This is a media literacy skill called “reading upstream.” Reading upstream is when you head directly to the primary sources included in articles so you can read the facts for yourself. Heading to primary sources is a for-sure way to get the unfiltered facts.

Looking through the actual law, there isn’t any mention of food or drinks.

See what multiple sources are reporting

Turning back to the keyword search results, I also found this fact check from Snopes. Like The Washington Post, Snopes reported that only Montana and New York have similar bans when it comes to food and water, though they wrote that these bans are actually less restrictive than Georgia’s. They looked at voting laws state by state, and wrote that these types of food and water bans are very rare, adding that Sterling’s claim was “way off base.”


Mostly Not Legit. While Delaware does prohibit gifts to voters, it’s not true to say that Georgia’s ban on food and water is the same law that’s in place in Delaware, since Delaware’s laws don’t even mention food or water.


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