Georgia city’s voter registration incentive raises legal concerns

A Georgia city’s plan to get residents out to vote has come under scrutiny by some who question if the incentive violated state laws against giving gifts in exchange for votes.

The City of South Fulton offered residents a $50 discount on citations if they registered to vote by Tuesday’s deadline or provided information confirming their voter status.

It was not immediately clear how many people participated in the incentive.

City solicitor LaDawn Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the plan was “innovative” — part of the court’s effort to “educate” voters ahead of elections.

“We did not force anyone to accept the reduced fee if they provided the paperwork,” she told the publication. “I did not inquire about their political preference or mention any candidate or campaign.”

But the discount offer had some wondering whether the state law barring the exchange of money or gifts for registering to vote was violated.

Mayor Bill Edwards told the Journal-Constitution that he doesn’t know whether it is “legal or illegal” but that he would “get an opinion” on the legality of the discount.

Jones, however, defended the city, saying no gifts or money were offered and that it was simply asking residents to consider their “civic engagement” when paying citations.

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