White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to questions from reporters on Monday about Georgia’s new election security law, including the debunked Four Pinocchio claim made by President Joe Biden that the bill restricted the ability of local officials to set polling hours. Psaki, apparently a fan of the movie, entered her own submission to earn some Pinocchios and doubled down on the false claim.
“Is the President going to change the way that he talks about the new Georgia voting law?” A reporter asked Psaki.
“Because in that interview that you’ve referenced, he said, ‘the law would end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off,’ and he said it would end voting hours early so working people can’t have their vote after their shift is over,” the reporter continued. “But The Washington Post gave that claim four Pinocchios because that part of the law gives counties the option to extend voting hours. And so I’m just curious if the President is going to change the way that he’s talking.”
“Well, fundamentally, the President doesn’t believe it should be made harder to vote; he believes it should be easier,” Psaki responded. “And this bill makes it harder to request and return an absentee ballot. It collapses the length of Georgia’s runoff election, making it harder for large jurisdictions to offer early voting.”
“It imposes rigid new restrictions on local officials’ ability to set polling hours to suit the needs of voters in their county. Those are all pieces of the bill,” Psaki added, being sure to describe a restriction that is not a piece of the bill.
In an analysis of the bill, Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting wrote, “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,” Fowler added. “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.”
Charles Stewart III, an election expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Washington Post, “I had also heard this generally reported as expanding early voting, so I’m surprised by the characterization.”
According to The Washington Post, Stewart “studied the precise language changes at our request and said it indicated an expansion of hours, especially in rural counties.”