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Consider the Georgia Senate Bill SB202 recently passed SB 202 . It includes (Section 33 at pdf page 21, line 1872)

No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method...

(This prohibition is pertinent to proximity to the place of polling and the proximity of other voters waiting to vote)

While in a line waiting to vote, my wife and I have a discussion wherein I explain why I'm going to vote for Joe as dog catcher. I don't ask her to vote for Joe, my conversation is confined to why I'm voting for Joe. I am not displaying or distributing campaign material.

Would I be in violation of the statute ? Without raising my voice, another voter might overhear my conversation, does that changed anything?

Extra credit: Does this prohibition by the government violate my free speech rights? (providing that I am not causing a disturbance)

ETA: Also just realized that this act makes it illegal for me to offer to give my wife a drink from my water bottle, or share a slice of pizza while waiting in line to vote!

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  • Could you add the page number in the PDF for section 33? It makes it easier. – hszmv Mar 29 at 13:39
  • @hszmv - glad to – BobE Mar 29 at 17:27
  • Which party does Joe belong to? – Studoku Mar 29 at 17:57
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This would likely be easy to constitute as electioneering or solicitation of votes as you are advocating for a particular candidate in an polling place beyond the restriction zone (you'll know it when you see it, because all the various candidates will have their sign right on the line as close as they can). For the purposes of this law, it doesn't matter if the person you are talking to is your wife or a stranger, you shouldn't be discussing politics while in the polling place and beyond the signs that say so. There are cases where people who are wearing the t-shirt in favor of Joe for Dog Catcher are asked to leave the polling place.

With respect to the first Amendment, a suit to get these laws declared unconstitutional would likely be countered by the State with the argument that it is narrowly tailored to conform with the least restrictive Time/Manner/Place restrictions (It's only enforced during the time the polling place is open, only in election season, It only bans discussion of candidates and policies on the ballots, and it's only while in line to vote or actually voting, all of which are clearly marked spaces.). It's also content neutral as you can discuss things like "Who would win in a fight between Batman and Megatron" or "Greatest late 90s boy band: N'Sync or Backstreet Boys?" You just can't discuss the policies of Joe- the Dog Catcher and Incumbant Ned "The "farm" your dog went to live and is much happier" Gassemall. Or any other candidate for that matter. The State can also likely show that it has a vested interest in not having voters who pick vitally important jobs manipulated or intimidated into voting for a corrupt candidate over a different one who wasn't getting discussion.

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  • Interesting.... "Solicit" is a verb meaning "ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone" that seems to me to be somewhat different than a conversation explaining that I know 'Joe" to be a honorable person that I know from church or card club.... as you say, that is hardly Joe's policies versus 'Ned's' policies. In any event, I fail to see that prohibition of that type could be perceived as narrow, nor that the State has a vested interest in my conversation about 'Joe's being a honest bridgeplayer. Perhaps the most effective legislation would be to require silence in the waiting line. – BobE Mar 30 at 2:29
  • Soliciting has no requirements of asking. "Buy a car!" Is soliciting. – Trish Mar 30 at 10:20
  • @Trish Black's law dictionary "solicit - To appeal for something; to apply to for obtaining something; to ask earnestly; to ask for the purpose of receiving; to endeavor to obtain by asking or pleading; to entreat, implore, or importune; to make petition to; to plead for; to try to obtain; and though the word implies a serious request, it requires no particular degree of importunity, entreaty, imploration, or supplication. People v. Phillips, 70 Cal.App.2d 449, 160 P.2d 872, 874. ---- sure sounds like "asking" – BobE Apr 4 at 2:22
  • Black's law dictionary and is not the law. – Trish Apr 4 at 9:03

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