The Washington Post‘s fact-checker debunked President Biden’s fasle claim that Georgia’s new election law limits voting hours, thereby hurting working-class voters.
Last week, during his first press conference, Biden called the law pushed by Georgia Republican lawmakers, and subsequently signed by the state’s governor, “sick” and “un-American.”
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work,” the president said last March 25.
Not content with that false claim, Biden again weighed in on the law in an official statement on “the attack on voting rights in Georgia”: “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”
These two false assertions were picked up by The Washington Post, which is closer to leftist and Democrat positions, which on this occasion made a very tough fact-check on Biden.
WaPo’s fact-check on Biden about Georgia
The Post said that, despite the fact that “the law has been criticized,” “there was a line [from Biden], both in his press conference and in his statement, that intrigued us greatly. It also intrigues those who have studied the new law.”
The newspaper explained that Georgia’s new election law does not stipulate a schedule change that would restrict the right to vote and that experts consulted agree.
“On Election Day in Georgia, polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot. Nothing in the new law changes those rules. However, the law did make some changes to early voting. But experts say the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.”
“You can criticize the bill for many things, but I don’t think you can criticize it for reducing the hours you can vote,” said University of Georgia political scientist Charles S. Bullock III.
Another expert consulted by the media outlet said, “I had also heard this generally reported as expanding early voting, so I’m surprised by the characterization.”
On the other hand, Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting explained in a detailed report that “One of the biggest changes in the bill would expand early voting access for most counties, adding an additional mandatory Saturday and formally codifying Sunday voting hours as optional.”
In other words, far from restricting the electoral process or affecting workers, as the president claimed at a press conference and in an official statement, in theory Georgia’s new election law expands access to voting.
One of the experts commented that Biden may have based his statements on drafts of the bill and not on the latest version approved by the governor.
The Post further laid out its own hypothesis as to why the governor lied in his official and media statements.
“The law used to say early ‘voting shall be conducted during normal business hours.’ Experts said that generally means 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new law makes it specific — “beginning at 9:00 AM and ending at 5:00 PM.” (…) But, as noted, the law also allows individual counties to set the hours anywhere between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. So the practical effect of the 5 p.m. reference in the law is minimal.”
The Post granted Biden’s statements “Four Pinocchios.” The media outlet explained that the president somehow “managed to turn that expansion into a restriction aimed at working people, calling it ‘among the outrageous parts’ of the law. There’s no evidence that is the case.”
One could understand a flub in a news conference. But then this same claim popped up in an official presidential statement. Not a single expert we consulted who has studied the law understood why Biden made this claim, as this was the section of law that expanded early voting for many Georgians.” said the Post.