An investigation has been launched by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office into District 61 state Rep. Roger Bruce, who was photographed last week handing out snacks to voters waiting in line outside the county courthouse.
Bruce, D-Atlanta, is the head of Douglas County’s eight-member state delegation. He was photographed at the courthouse last Tuesday wearing a “State Representative Roger Bruce” shirt and passing out snacks to voters alongside Douglas County Commissioner Tarenia Carthan.
Bruce’s district includes Fulton, Douglas and Cobb counties. He is running unopposed in next month’s general election and has been in office since 2003.
The incident caused an uproar on social media due to the state law against candidates campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote.
In addition, the law says no candidate should distribute or display any campaign material or set up a booth or table on any day in which ballots are being cast.
Any candidate who violates this shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, according to state law.
A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office confirmed Bruce is under investigation but said the office couldn’t comment further. However, the spokesperson for the office said a candidate could be in violation of the law for handing out snacks to voters depending on the value of the gift. This is ultimately a decision for the State Election Board.
Bruce told the Sentinel last week that he did not think about what he was doing and was handing out snacks to those who were waiting in long lines to cast their ballots.
Some in Douglas County reported waiting at least seven hours last Monday at the courthouse, and at least one person reported waiting five hours to vote the following day.
“I didn’t even think about it, I’m running unopposed, and I actually had a jacket on that I had taken off,” Bruce said. “The shirt did not say, ‘vote for me’ and we didn’t ask anybody to vote for me. We didn’t ask anybody if they were in my district at the polling places. I was out there because the day before one of my friends stood in line for seven and a half hours waiting to vote.”