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Well, this is a major bummer: Apparently, it’s illegal to give discounts or freebies to voters.

DCist reported more than a week ago (and pointed out again yesterday) that federal law prohibits restaurants and bars from rewarding voting with material goods in places where federal candidates are on the ballot. The penalty? Fines or imprisonment up to a year—or both.

We know what you’re thinking: Seriously?!

Capitol City Brewing Company canceled its free beer for voting promotion after learning about the law.  And Hank’s Oyster Bar will no longer be giving out free drinks and oysters to voters.

DCist took it upon itself to call out local businesses for offering free food to voters. The site’s Ben Freed (who’s also a City Paper contributor) pointed out on Twitter that it was illegal for Pound the Coffee to give free joe to people wearing their “I voted” stickers. To which the coffeehouse responded, “Ok, ok. We are apparently being illegal. We will not reward you for voting. Tomorrow is STICKER DAY. Free cm coffee if you wear a sticker!!”

Politico reports that Z-Burger has also reworked its deal, so now anyone who uses the secret code “Z-VOTE” on election day can get a free burger. Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and Krispy Kreme also altered their deals in 2008 to line up with the law.

Whether they don’t know or don’t care, there are still some places (as of now) where you’ll be rewarded with free or discounted food and drinks for wearing your “I voted” sticker:

A Bar at Avenue Suites

Access to all-night happy hour prices from 4 p.m. to close

Art & Soul

Order a swing state cocktail, and get a free cocktail for a friend.

The Big Cheese

Free bag of chips

Boundary Stone

15 percent off your check

Del Frisco’s Grille

Complimentary Partisan shot (tequila, pomegranate, blood orange, passion fruit) with the purchase of food or drink

The Diner

Half-off pie

Jackson 20

A three-course Andrew Jackson-inspired dinner available for $20


Complimentary election day treat from the kitchen


$5 glasses of wine and $5 Peroni drafts as well as discounted small plates and a $6 burger

We’ll update the list if anything changes. Know of other deals for wearing an “I voted” sticker? Email us at jsidman@washingtoncitypaper.com.


Jackie’s Restaurant

Free “USA” cupcake (Update: After learning that it’s illegal, Jackie’s is now giving cupcakes to anyone with a sticker of any kind.)

Photo via Shutterstock