WaPo fact-checker calls out Biden over false claims about Georgia election law reforms

A number of Republican-led states, with Georgia at the forefront, are working to pass laws designed to protect the integrity of elections, even as those new laws have been criticized by Democrats and maligned as racist efforts to restrict the voting rights of minorities.

President Joe Biden has been chief among the critics of Georgia’s new election laws. Rather surprisingly, the fact-checker for The Washington Post actually called the president out on his false claims, even going so far as to award him “four Pinocchios” for two of most egregious mistruths, the Washington Examiner reported.

Before getting too excited at the prospect of a return of journalistic integrity, bear in mind that the fact-checker only took on one major false claim from Biden while leaving several other dubious remarks, particularly regarding supposed racist motivations, unchecked.

Biden’s false claims

When asked about GOP-led election law reforms during the president’s first major press conference last week, Biden said, “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick.”

“Deciding in some states that you cannot bring water to people standing in line, waiting to vote; deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work; deciding that there will be no absentee ballots under the most rigid circumstances,” he added. While all three of those claims are false, The Post‘s fact-checker only called out one of them.

The next day, in a statement specifically regarding Georgia’s new law, Biden said, among other false things, “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.”

Biden also reiterated his untrue or grossly misconstrued claims about absentee ballots and providing water to voters waiting in line, and in both the statement and the press conference, provocatively likened the election reforms to the racist “Jim Crow” laws passed by segregationist Democrats prior to the civil rights era.

Early voting hours actually expanded

Glenn Kessler, fact-checker for The Washington Post, looked specifically at Biden’s claims that the Georgia law cut voting hours short and made it more difficult for “working people” to cast a ballot, but could find no evidence whatsoever to support those claims. In fact, Kessler discovered the exact opposite of what the president had said.

In actuality, voting hours on Election Day remained unchanged, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There were some changes to how early voting was conducted, but overall, voters were actually granted even more opportunities to cast a ballot than they were previously.

With regard to Biden’s claim that Georgia would stop allowing votes at 5 p.m., thereby denying working people an opportunity to vote, that appears to be a gross misinterpretation of a provision that merely changed the vague language of “normal business hours” for early voting — generally understood to mean 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — to more specifically state that early voting polling locations had to remain open for a minimum of 9 to 5, but could be open even longer than that.

“One could understand a flub in a news conference,” Kessler wrote. “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 that expansion into a restriction aimed at working people, calling it ‘among the outrageous parts’ of the law,” the fact-checker added. “There’s no evidence that is the case. The president earns Four Pinocchios.”

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