Alcohol Regulation Roundup: Election Day Edition

by Michelle Minton on November 6, 2012

in Alcohol Regulation Roundup, Features, Personal Liberty

While Mitt may not drink, many of the voting public and the candidates themselves hope to celebrate/drown their sorrows at the bar while the returns roll in. If you were planning on knocking a few back with friends at the pub, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise depending on where you live. A couple of states still ban all sales of alcohol on election day while others have some interesting restrictions — all of these so-called “blue laws” are hangovers from prohibition

Only two states, Kentucky and South Carolina, ban sales of all alcohol on Election Day, which includes sales at stores, restaurants, and bars. Unlike South Carolina, which seems content with the ban, some lawmakers in Kentucky, are attempting to update the laws.

According to a Time blog post on the issue, Kentucky Rep. Arnold Simpson has tried no less than 5 times to lift the ban and save the state’s bars and restaurants from the $4.5 million in revenue they reportedly lose for being closed on the day.

Other states have partial bans on alcohol sales during the election. For example, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown reportedly swore off alcohol until the polls open, but he’ll actually have to wait until the polls close at 8pm because alcohol sales are banned in the state while voting is in progress. Senator Stephen Brewer introduced a bill last year that would have allowed election-day sales, but so far it has not come up for a vote. I suppose Senator Brown could calm his nerves by flasking-it until 8pm, but that wouldn’t be very statesmanlike.

In Alaska, not only are alcohol sales banned during election hours, but businesses with liquor license must be closed during those hours. That said, local governments can award exemptions to local businesses within their jurisdiction.

And if you thought you were going to get a free beer in exchange for showing your “I voted” sticker, think again. Despite bars in both Virginia and D.C. announcing plans for such a giveaway, the federal election committee apparently prohibits rewarding voting with material goods.

So, depending on where you’re pulling the lever, tapping the screen or punching the chad (if those still exist) you may have to a little extra work to obtain a post-election libation.

CEI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so technically I’m not supposed to endorse candidates, but it’s no big secret that I’m a rank-and-file member of the beer party.

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