New York Trial To Determine Fate of Ban on Handing Voters Food and Water

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today marks the beginning of a trial that will determine the fate of New York’s ban on passing out food and water to voters waiting in long lines. 

New York’s ban on handing out food and water — often referred to as line-warming — has long been the subject of ridicule for the otherwise progressive state. The voter suppression law, which prohibits nonpartisan organizations from giving out food and water to voters waiting in long lines, is the subject of a years-long lawsuit brought by the Brooklyn Branch of the NAACP. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Republican legislators in Georgia and Florida passed similar voter suppression laws, which were met with public outcry and lawsuits. 

This 2021 lawsuit argues that the New York law violates both the First and 14th Amendments. The Brooklyn NAACP points out “long wait times affect all New Yorkers, but poor and minority voters are disproportionately affected as they routinely wait in lines three to four times longer than voters in more affluent or majority-white communities.” The trial will focus on if New York’s prohibition of passing food and water out to voters waiting in line to vote is unconstitutional. 

New York Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D) sponsored a bill to allow for line-warming activities, but it is currently stalled in the New York Assembly. Without legislative action to repeal this voter suppression law, this lawsuit may be the best chance at repealing this suppressive law. 

Learn more about the case here.

Read the bill to repeal the ban here.