President Joe Biden is getting hit with four “Pinocchios” for a recent claim about Georgia’s new voting law.
Biden claimed during his first news conference on March 25, “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 echoed his remarks in a statement on March 26, writing, “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.”
In case you missed it, see his comments below (starting at 32:00):
However, The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler hit Biden with four “Pinocchios” for “falsely” claiming the new Georgia voting law “ends voting hours early.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the bill into law last week, and the sweeping new voting restrictions are facing legal challenges. Among the limits in the new law include imposing stricter identification requirements and limiting drop boxes.
On Biden’s remarks concerning the new law, the Post writes, “There was one line in both his news conference and his statement that has kept us puzzling until our puzzler was sore. It also puzzled experts who have studied the new law.”
The Post notes that polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Georgia on Election Day, “and if you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot.”
The new law does not change that. However, the new law does make some changes to early voting.
As there were reportedly 25 versions of the bill previously “floating around,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles S. Bullock III told the Post that Biden may have been briefed on an early version of the bill and not on the final bill.
Additionally, Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting wrote in a report on the new law, “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.”
He continued, “Counties can have early voting open as long as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at minimum. If you live in a larger metropolitan county, you might not notice a change. For most other counties, you will have an extra weekend day, and your weekday early voting hours will likely be longer.”
As the Post reports:
“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.’ A Georgia election official said the change was made in part because some rural county election offices only worked part time during the week, not a full eight-hour day, so the shift to more specific times makes it clear they must be open every weekday for at least eight hours.
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.”
“Biden framed his complaint in terms of a slap at working people,” the Post’s Kessler writes, before adding, “Many listeners might assume he was talking about voting on Election Day, not early voting. But Election Day hours were not changed.”
Though the new law states the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. time period for early voting, counties still could have the option to have the time period from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. And, under the new law, “an additional mandatory day of early voting on Saturday was added and two days of early voting on Sunday were codified as an option for counties,” as the Post reports.
While it could have been a “flub” in Biden’s press conference, the president made a similar remark in the statement the day after. So, as the Post writes, “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.”
“Somehow Biden 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. The president earns Four Pinocchios.”
The Georgia governor has defended the bill against criticism from Biden, who called it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” Kemp fired back, telling The Hill that the bill “expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity.”