The Washington Post has awarded Joe Biden four Pinocchios (the max) for a patently false claim he made about the new Georgia law on voting. Biden said the following during a press conference:
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.
Two days later, he followed up with this official statement:
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.
But the Georgia law does no such thing. Biden, or whoever feeds him his material, is just making it up.
Glenn Kessler, the Post’s lead fact checker, blows the whistle:
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.
Here’s how the law expands voting opportunities:
“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,” Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting said in an excellent and comprehensive report on the impact of the new law. “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.”
Kessler asked the White House to explain why Biden twice made obviously false claims about the Georgia voting law. He “did not receive an on-the-record response.” (Emphasis added)
Clearly, Biden’s fabrications merited four Pinocchios. To his credit, Kessler awarded them. His explanation is damning:
Biden framed his complaint in terms of a slap at working people. The law would “end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work” or “ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”
Many listeners might assume he was talking about voting on Election Day, not early voting. But Election Day hours were not changed.
As for early voting, the law made a modest change, replacing a vague “normal business hours” — presumed to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — to a more specific 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. time period. But that’s the minimum. Under the new law, counties have the option to extend the voting hours so voters can start casting ballots as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. — the same as Election Day in Georgia. Moreover, 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.
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.
Somehow Biden managed to turn [an] 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.