Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler surprised readers on Thursday by throwing “Four Pinocchios” at President Biden over his claims that Georgia’s new voter-integrity law would “end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work” (in his press conference) and “ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.” (Statement the next day.)
You could tell Kessler wanted to avoid this punitive verdict: “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.”
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 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.
What made this ruling stand out is that Kessler has throughout March made a number of Biden fact checks with “no rating” (zero Pinocchios). Add up all the month’s Pinocchios so far and it’s 24 for the Republicans, and ten for the Democrats, or 2.4 to 1. That’s a pretty typical Post tilt.