Midterm elections are underway across the USA, but some restaurants may be falling foul of the law by offering free meals to those who have voted.
“It is illegal in elections when federal candidates are on the ballot to offer free stuff (including free food or drink) to people upon proof of voting,” explained University of California Irvine law professor Rick Hasen. One restaurant in Missouri was forced to cancel its half-price sandwich promotion after concerns were raised online over the legality of the move.
“But we’re just a small independent with about 30 employees,” said Sycamore owner Sanford Speake. “We don’t have the resources to deal with that kind of lawsuit if it came up, so we just cancelled it.” Speake also noted that news coverage of the thwarted deal has given his restaurant more coverage than any other
However, some outlets are getting around the law by offering votes to anyone who asks, not just those who can prove they have voted. The deals are all non-partisan and aim to promote democracy as a whole, not support for any one party.
A non-profit called Pizza to the Polls had raised almost NZ$70,000 in the lead up to the election, so that they can deliver pizza to polling booths as an incentive for voters to endure potentially long lines.
“It’s a tricky area, but we’re confident it’s not illegal to give food to people who have already decided to vote and are at a polling place,” said a spokesperson for the company.