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Freebies With 'I Voted' Sticker Against California Law

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There's a long--and growing--list of places who are offering freebies and treats to people who say they voted or who can show their "I Voted" sticker. Some places offering goodies include Starbucks (free cup of coffee), Krispy Kreme (free donut), O!Burger (free fries or cookies with any burger order), and the Colorado Wine Company (1/2 off wine), to name a few. This of course immediately produces some ire among those who voted by mail and didn't get a sticker and those whose citizenship/residency prohibits them from voting despite having political awareness; it's no fun to be left out, especially when we're talking free coffee and donuts!

However, these freebies might actually be in violation of the law, namely "California Elections Code section 18521 (b), which prohibits rewarding people for voting or not voting. A companion California statute contains similar language. Violating the law carries a prison sentence of 16 months to three years," according to The law was created to prevent any form of bribery for voting (or not voting) through free food, alcohol, or even money.

Retailers who are still planning to go ahead with the giveaways may feel what they are doing is less bribery and more celebrating the democratic process; Starbucks has said that they aren't breaking the law because they aren't requiring proof of voting, but rather going on the honor system. So to the sticker-less absentees, mail-ins, and Permanent Legal Residents, the law is on your least when it comes to getting free stuff with your "I Voted" sticker.

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