Is GA Gov. Kemp right Biden was 'lying' about voter bill?"
- Brian Kemp is Georgia’s 83rd Governor, elected into office on November 16, 2018. Prior to this, he was Georgia’s senator and Secretary of State.
- Georgia’s new voting law, SB 202, requires photo ID for absentee voting, adjusts rules around ballot drops, extends hours in most polling locations from 9 AM-5 PM to 7 AM-7 PM, and prohibits anyone from soliciting/bribing voters in line with food and/or drink. However, poll officers are explicitly permitted to supply water to voters waiting in line (line 1888).
- Democrats and President Biden claim the voting law will disproportionately affect voters of color and say it is “un-American and voter suppression,” likening it to “Jim Crow Laws.” Governor Kemp said Biden and others are “lying about this bill to pressure these organizations.”
- A March 2021 Rasmussen Report survey reports 75% of all US voters support voter ID laws, including 69% and 82% of Black and minority voters. 51% of Democrats view voter ID laws as discriminatory while 67% of unaffiliated voters and 79% of Republicans do not.
A Washington Post fact-checker gave Biden's statements concerning the changes to early voting in the bill their worst rating of 'four Pinocchios,' noting that Biden's five o'clock closing time quoted by Biden does not match reality. In a press conference, Biden made the incorrect claim directly, and in a later written statement, he made a reference to ending voting hours early 'so working people can't cast their vote after their shift is over.' The bill does not, in fact, call for polling places to close any earlier than they ever have, and according to Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting, it 'would expand early voting access for most counties, adding an additional mandatory Saturday and formally codifying Sunday voting hours.' The bill does contain language specifying a 9 AM-5 PM schedule for early voting, but WaPo explains that this is in part 'because some rural county election offices only worked part-time during the week,' and the change ensures that they will be 'open every weekday for at least eight hours.' It also makes the early voting time-specific, where previously the law only stated that it must be 'during normal business hours.' According to the bill itself, registrar discretion from county to country could extend the hours to 7 AM - 7 PM (line 1503).
A CNN report explains that the bill is quite a mixed bag, at the same time imposing 'significant new obstacles to voting' while also containing 'some provisions that can reasonably be described as pro-voting.' CNN points out that critics of the bill 'have not always described all of the text accurately.' In this case, Biden seems to be one of those choosing not to do so.
President Biden claimed the Department of Justice and his team are looking into safeguarding the rights of Georgia's voters—something they wouldn't do without a cause generated by having read the bill. Donald Trump claims 'the rule changes would have helped him if they had been enacted sooner,' and this move on the part of Republicans has 'prompted an internal Democratic dispute over scrapping the filibuster to void the state-level efforts to restrict voting access.' The law wasn't created with Americans in mind—it's meant to help Republicans recoup after their sore loss in the 2021 election, and President Biden is threatening this move by calling them out.
Gov. Kemp stated the MLB would have moved their headquarters out of New York if they actually cared about voters' rights, but this proves he is missing the point of what those opposed to the bill are saying. By moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta, MLB denounces the bill and shows they don't support it.
Gov. Kemp's remarks about the higher number of days available for early voting in Georgia versus New York and Delaware don't mean anything when the bill disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities where poll closures lead to long lines and wait-times. Parts of the law, such as restrictions on providing food and drink to voters in line, make the voting process even harder and discourages voters from going out to vote. If Gov. Kemp believed this law would help voters, especially Black and Brown voters, he would listen to the criticism he's been receiving rather than defending a law that is clearly an issue for many Americans.