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Keep Houston Press Free
4

Get Your Free Election Day Stuff (And Maybe Break the Law)

Don't forget, Election Day is a great day for freebies.

If you need a cab ride to the polls, it's free. Or at least the first $25 of the ride is. (Contrary to rumors, riding the bus or train is not free today, unless you live in Dallas or Austin or some other hippie town.)

Then you can get a free cup of coffee from Starbucks. With attitude, no doubt.

Accompany it with a free donut from Krispy Kreme, if you can find one around here anymore.

And then top it off with some free ice cream from Ben & Jerry's.

And wash it all down with one free drink at Under the Volcano on Bissonnet.

Coffee, donuts, ice cream, booze -- obviously voting is good for you.

But is this quid-pro-quo stuff legal? Scholarly legal opinions we found on the Web vary, as in fact do laws from state to state.

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However, Gawker claims to have found an unequivocal Federal statute that prohibits anyone from accepting any gift in return for voting in a Federal election, to wit:

Codifying the ban on voter bribery, the United States Congress has prohibited the conspiracy to encourage illegal voting and stated that anyone who 'pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.'

So if you want to indulge all your vices for free today, keep your politics local. Or at least tell people you did.

-- Richard Connelly and John Nova Lomax

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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