Pretty much everywhere you looked on Election Day, be it the supermarket, the workplace, or social media–especially social media–you saw people proudly sporting stickers that say “I Voted.” While people should certainly be proud about exercising their right to elect officials, those ubiquitous decals may just run afoul of the law.
See, it’s against the law to give people any kind of prize or reward for voting, according to UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen.
“Even though many are ignoring it this election cycle, you cannot give free anything,” Hasen told New York City’s NBC4. It doesn’t matter that the gifts aren’t meant to sway a voter in one direction or another.
“In elections in which federal candidates are on the ballot, no one can offer any kind of benefit or reward for voting,” Hasen told Politico, noting that it may be permitted in situations where only state officials are on the ballot.
That means that businesses that are advertising deals for people with proof of votes (back to those stickers!) are likely breaking the law. Chains like Shake Shack offered free fries with any purchase to people with a sticker. Deals for everyone, regardless of whether they voted, are just fine, like Baskin-Robbins, who offered buy-one-get-one-for-99-cents ice cream cones.
Lyft and Uber, on the other hand, are in the clear for giving special deals for providing trips to voting sites. Hasen told NBC4 that’s because “courts have ruled that this is facilitating voting, rather than acting as a reward for voting.”
[Image via David Becker/Getty Images]