Attacks on Georgia’s newest election integrity efforts have been nonsensical at best.
Now, even President Joe Biden has weighed in on these efforts with false claims that were surprisingly met with some resistance from a fact-checker at none other than the notoriously left-wing Washington Post on Tuesday.
Biden effectively accused Georgia’s new law — Senate Bill 202 — of restricting election-day poll access to working adults, suggesting that polling locations would close at earlier times than in previous election years.
“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,” Biden said at a news conference Thursday when asked about legislatures that are working to “restrict voting.”
“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 added in a statement Friday.
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Biden was misleading the public when he made these claims, however. And even the liberal Washington Post wasn’t going to accept what he said at face value.
“Many listeners might assume he was talking about voting on Election Day, not early voting. But Election Day hours were not changed,” The Post reported.
And the bill actually expands early voting access in many communities, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.
“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. 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,” the outlet reported. “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.”
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These changes will most likely expand early voting access in rural areas, while early voting hours in urban areas, which were generally longer already, will mostly remain the same, according to Business Insider.
So how do these measures make it harder for those who leave work at 5 p.m. to vote? The simple answer is that they don’t.
The bill does restrict mobile voting buses during the early voting period, Business Insider reported, but expands voting access and information in other ways, including via a new requirement that requires officials to provide enough notice “for changes of advance voting locations.”
“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,” according to The Post. “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 Post mercilessly gave the president four “Pinocchios” for his falsehood — the worst rating on its scale.
And the newspaper didn’t even get into the weeds regarding other falsehoods Biden has been pushing when it comes to this bill.
In his Friday statement, Biden criticized the law for its “rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots” and for mak[ing] it a crime to provide water to voters while they wait in line,” while also accusing Republicans of causing longer lines by “reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.”
All of these efforts restrict minority voting rights and mean greater opportunities for Republican control, right?
If you take the liberal establishment’s word at face value, then yes. However, a quick glimpse at the real nature of Georgia’s election integrity measures delivers a crushing inconvenient truth to this narrative.
Georgia law already required that in-person voters present a state-issued photo ID in order to cast their ballot. In the past, Georgia’s absentee ballots underwent signature verification efforts.
Under the new law, voters applying for an absentee ballot must provide the number listed on their state-issued ID. To verify their ballot, they must either give that number again or the last four digits of their Social Security number instead.
If Georgia residents are unable to afford a state-issued photo ID, the state will issue one free of charge to ensure all adults eligible to vote can do so.
What is so controversial about any of that? It certainly doesn’t seem to be one of those “rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots” that Biden talked about.
As for Biden’s claim that Republicans have reduced polling sites across the state, county election offices, not the state itself, exert control over how many precincts are available to voters within their respective areas.
The same issue regarding alleged minority voter suppression came up in 2018. But at the time, “local election officials [said] they’re saving taxpayers’ money by consolidating precincts at a time when more Georgians are taking advantage of early voting,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Elections in Georgia are administered by counties,” SB 202 reads.
If “local election officials” are in charge of precinct consolidation, then what leads Biden to believe that Republicans are responsible for closures in Democrat-heavy areas led by Democratic officials? (We can infer that he’s talking about polling site closures in Democratic areas, because if they were happening in Republican areas, he likely wouldn’t be saying a thing.)
SB 202 also establishes a hotline for purposes of reporting voter intimidation and illegal election activities, thus furthering statewide election integrity efforts.
And as for Biden’s claim that Georgia’s new law criminalizes handing out water to voters waiting in line?
The new law does not restrict this entirely; it simply prevents special interest groups from handing out items that could potentially “incentivize” voters by allowing only poll workers to make water available to voters.
It’s like Biden wasn’t even trying to tell the truth.
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