Starbucks Runs Into Election-Day Problems

In Some Places, They Can't Give Coffee Away

By Published on .

Starbucks, in its bid to cash in on election fever, announced that it would give free coffee to anyone who voted today. It turns out that that's easier said than done. In some places you can't give the stuff away -- and that's not just a figure of speech.

According to readers commenting on the original story, offering anything free in exchange for a vote is illegal in the state of Georgia. Oops. But it should be pointed out that Starbucks, in most cases, isn't exactly requiring proof of voting. Just tell them you voted and they'll give you free joe. As one correspondent in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill reported: "It's easy peasy."

But not always. In Manhattan, the usual ridiculous lines for Starbucks are even longer. So Adages correspondent Ken Wheaton did what he always does: bought his coffee from some guy on the street. (It tastes better anyway.)

Emily York's parents, down in Fredericksburg, Va., had to demand their free coffee. And they were even wearing "I Voted" stickers.

And York further reports that some Chicago java-drinkers are simply too cool for a cup of regular joe. "The lady in front of me was annoyed at the offer of free coffee. 'No,' she snapped. 'I want a latte.' The guy behind me tried to turn down his free coffee saying that he hadn't voted yet. And the woman behind him was also annoyed, 'Yes I know about the promotion, but I want a latte.'"
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