Free food, discounts, and even vacation days may be tempting incentives to get out and vote, but they’re also illegal ways of coercing voters. According to Hawai’i Office of Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla and others, such activities may run afoul of both federal and state laws. “We know these are not malicious attempts to coerce voters, but we do want to be cautious,” said Quidilla.
Relevant laws include HRS §19-3, which states in part:
The following persons shall be deemed guilty of an election fraud [emphasis mine]:
Every elector who … directly or indirectly … receives … any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration … for voting or agreeing to vote;
Similar U.S. laws are on the books, according to the Advertiser.
I don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand, I totally understand the need for laws like this. On the other hand…come on, anybody intuitively knows that these gifts are so small that they’re pretty pathetic bribes.
“If someone was only going to vote because of a cookie … ” said Roberta Rinker-Ludloff, regional vice president of marketing, “I guess that says a lot about these cookies. They’re delicious. Have you tried one?”
Election 2004 Series