The Ticket

Sorry, Kentucky, South Carolina: No booze with your ballots

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First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama drink Guinness beer as they meet with local residents at Ollie …

Let's say the 2012 campaign—the flood of attack ads, the torrent of junk mail, the mere trickle of inspiring proposals—has you reaching for an Election Day drink. Tough luck, voters in Kentucky and South Carolina: No booze for you!

Eighty years after Prohibition's repeal, those states are the only ones holding on to bans on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars or selling it in liquor stores on Election Day, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. DISCUS is, as you can guess, not a huge fan.

"The Election Day sales ban is a relic of the Prohibition era when saloons sometimes served as polling stations," according to DISCUS Vice President Ben Jenkins. "Repealing the ban on Election Day alcohol sales would provide consumers with much-needed convenience—whether they're celebrating election returns or mourning them." According to DISCUS, five states—Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Utah and West Virginia—have eased similar restrictions since 2008. The original bans, many of which date to Prohibition, also reflected a desire to curb the buying of votes with booze. Kentucky has been considering lifting the restrictions.

South Carolina, though, isn't messing around, according to its laws on alcohol:

"It is unlawful to sell alcoholic liquors on Sunday except as authorized by law, on statewide election days, or during periods proclaimed by the Governor in the interest of law and order or public morals and decorum."

Breaking that law is a misdemeanor offense. A first conviction can carry a fine of $200 or 60 days imprisonment. That goes up to a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for one year on second offense. Caught and convicted a third time? The fine rises to $2,000 and jail time goes up to two years.

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