Brian Whiteside, the Solicitor General for Gwinnett County in Georgia, told MSNBC host Ari Melber on Tuesday that he would not enforce parts of the Georgia election integrity bill.
Whiteside said on MSNBC’s The Beat that he would not prosecute people who were not campaigning for handing out food or drinks in voting lines. He said that last year, people who were not campaigning brought food and water to people standing in voting lines because of the hot conditions.
The new Georgia voting law, which is called the “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” has been criticized by many people including President Joe Biden for allegedly preventing voters from having access to water while they wait in line. However, the bill intends to crack down on “line warming,” or trying to unfairly influence voters using gifts while they wait in line. (RELATED: Georgia’s New Voting Law — Myths And Facts)
“No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector,” the law says.
The following section clarifies that voters will still have access to water.
“This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing… or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.”
Melber asked if Whiteside had “found some kind of loophole in the law” or if he’s saying he is “simply not going to follow part of the law.”
“Well, no,” the solicitor general responded. “What is in the law, basically, there is no rational basis for the law.”
“When you commit to a criminal law, there has to be a basis that there will be harm to a party or to property,” Whiteside continued. “There is no harm in someone being humane. There is no actual criminal nexus here to be humane.”
Melber said that although a lot of people might agree with Whiteside’s decision, critics would claim that what he is doing is “no different than someone who opposes marriage equality and says they’re not going to issue those marriage licenses.” (RELATED: CBS News Deletes Tweet Linking To Article That Gave Companies Advice On Fighting ‘Georgia’s Restrictive New Voting Law’)
“In other words, does this just come down to your opinion above what the law states?” Melber asked.
“Well, I think when you look at the rational basis of the law, there is no rational basis,” Whiteside responded. “It basically says that they’re going to arrest someone for merely having water or giving water out. I take an oath to seek justice. It would be unjust for a police officer to arrest someone for merely giving someone some type of nutrition or hydration.”