Tuesday, November 04, 2008


...shall go unpunished.

The Evil Mermaid - that’s Starbucks, Esteemed Readers - had planned to hand out free coffee to people who came into their shops after having voted. Likewise did Krispy Kreme, doughnut purveyor to the South, plan to offer up free doughnuts to those who exercised their franchise. As did Ben & Jerry, fatboys extraordinaire, with scoops of ice cream.

Sounds good, no? An encouragement, a minor enticement, if you will, for people to worship at the altar of Democracy, without regard to party...for the doughnuts, ice cream, and coffee were offered up to all voters, be they for Donkey, Elephant, or Duck-Billed Platypus.

Alas, the Powers that Be here in Georgia raised an objection.

Apparently, there are federal laws on the books that prohibit offering any sort of enticements or remuneration for voting, and the penalties for transgressing are quite severe.

It’s pretty clear what the point of such a law would be. You don’t want people handing out hot dogs - or sawbucks - to people in an attempt to buy votes. Vote for Joe Blow and get a free hamburger! Not cricket, for obvious reasons.

But the Starbucks and Krispy Kreme programs set no test, demanded no loyalty to a specific candidate - only that one voted. Nevertheless, the State authorities made it plain: They would prosecute.

I have no idea how things eventually worked out, as I do not eat the fine products of Krispy Kreme, I do my level best to avoid those of Ben & Jerry, and I see no point in using expensive gasoline to get free coffee from the Evil Mermaid. I believe any legal issues were circumvented simply by offering the freebies to all comers. But here’s a memo to our Wise Solons. Why don’t you think about rewriting these well-intentioned laws? Encouraging people to vote is a good thing...as long as it is done without a partisan agenda.

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