WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — In an effort to roll back Georgia’s recent controversial voting law, Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and other members of Congress have co-sponsored legislation that would provide a basic level of support to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots, especially in areas where long lines can deter voting.
Pingree co-sponsored the bill, titled the “Stay in Line to Vote Act,” which was introduced by Democratic Reps. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Nikema Williams of Georgia. The Stay in Line to Vote Act would explicitly allow food and drink to be provided to voters while they wait in line at polling places.
If passed, the bill would override Georgia’s new voting law that places restrictions on absentee and mail-in voting and also bars people from providing water to voters while they wait in line—lines that stretched for hours during primaries and general elections. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s controversial voting bill into law on March 25, sparking uproar among liberals in Washington, including President Joe Biden.
In a scathing statement, Biden called the law, and many other Republican bills like it that are proposed in other states, a "blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience." But he went a step further, painting the legislative efforts by Republicans to implement new, more restrictive losses after bruising defeats in the 2020 election cycle as "Jim Crow in the 21st Century."
Pingree, who in a statement Monday also called Georgia’s law “the new Jim Crow,” said, “Congress must do everything possible to protect access to the ballot box for all.”
“Voting is one of the most sacred rights we have in American Democracy," she said in a release. "The continuing attempts we're seeing across the country to disenfranchise voters and make voting more difficult are the new Jim Crow. Congress must do everything possible to protect access to the ballot box for all. This includes reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, passage of H.R. 1 and support for bills like the Stay in Line to Vote Act, which will stop dangerous and bad faith voter suppression laws."
So far, 16 Democrats have cosponsored the Stay in Line to Vote Act.
On March 3, the House passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation despite unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation. House Resolution 1, which passed in a near party-line 220-210 vote, would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting, and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.
Maine’s other Congressional representative, Rep. Jared Golden, also a Democrat, voted to pass H.R. 1 last month. His office did not immediately respond for comment on whether he would support the new bill co-sponsored by Pingree.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.