The Washington Post fact-checking outfit awarded President Joe Biden “Four Pinocchios” — its worst rating — for his claim that a new Georgia election-security law “ends voting hours early.”
Biden, whose White House called the legislation “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” has repeatedly insinuated that the law limits voting opportunities. “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,” he said in a statement on Friday.
During his first presidential press conference on Thursday, Biden said what he was “worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is,” calling it “sick” and saying that “you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.”
But the law makes no change to Georgia’s Election Day voting hours, which run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “[E]xperts say the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them,” the Post reported. MIT election expert Charles Stewart III, who studied the law’s language for the paper, found that “it indicated an expansion of hours, especially in rural counties.”
As for early voting, the law specifically mentions that voting sites are required to open “beginning at 9:00 a.m.and ending at 5:00 p.m.” The specification, however, does not fit Biden’s characterization. As the Post noted, “[m]any listeners might assume he was talking about voting on Election Day, not early voting.”
A Georgia election official told the paper that the change was due to the fact that some rural election officials only work part-time, with the new law now forcing them to be open for at least eight hours on weekdays. That designation is only the minimum, however, as the law also allows for counties to operate voting booths anywhere between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The law also added an additional Saturday of mandatory early voting, as well as two optional Sundays.
“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,” the Post stated. “Somehow Biden managed to turn that expansion into a restriction aimed at working people, calling it ‘among the outrageous parts’ of the law.”
The Post’s fact-checking “about” page notes that “Four Pinocchios” are reserved for claims that are “Whoppers.”
Biden’s characterizations have also drawn pushback from Georgia’s top election officials. “Democrats and national media outlets asserting that Georgia’s election reform will ‘restrict access’ to voting are just partisan talking points, not facts,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a frequent target of former president Donald Trump, said in a statement. Raffensperger’s chief operating officer, Gabriel Sterling, echoed the assessment. “The claim of voter suppression has the same level of truth as the claims of voter fraud in the last election,” he said.