White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said President Biden will continue to advocate for ways to make it “easier” to vote, while refusing to walk back his past comments about a new Georgia voting law that have since been fact-checked.
Last month, Biden said the new voting law in Georgia would end voting at 5 p.m., making it difficult for people working. The Washington Post, however, gave that claim “four Pinocchios,” because that section of the law gives counties the option to extend voting hours.
Psaki, during the White House press briefing Monday, was asked if the president would change the way he is talking about the Georgia voting law, in the wake of the fact check.
“Well, fundamentally, the president doesn’t believe they should be made harder to vote. He believes it should be easier,” Psaki said. “And this bill makes it harder to request and return an absentee ballot.”
President Biden speaks to members of the media after arriving on the Ellipse on the National Mall after spending the weekend at Camp David, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ((AP Photo/Evan Vucci))
Psaki added that “it collapses the length of Georgia’s runoff election, making it harder for large jurisdictions to offer early voting and 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,” she said. “So his view is that we need to make it easier and not harder to vote. And that will continue to be what he advocates for.”
When pressed again, Psaki replied: “I think we can — the fact checkers will also tell you — that this bill does not make it easier for people across the state of Georgia to vote. And that’s where he has concerns.”
When asked again if Biden can acknowledge that the Georgia law does not change Election Day voting hours, Psaki fired back again.
“It also doesn’t expand them for early voting and makes early voting shorter,” Psaki said “So there are a lot of components of the legislation he is concerned about. And that’s what he was expressing.”
Psaki maintained that there are components of the law “that make it more difficult to vote.”
Georgia enacted sweeping election reform last week that required voter ID for absentee voting rather than relying on signature matching for verification, limited ballot drop boxes to one per county or one per 100,000 voters, expanded early voting days, and standardized early voting hours to a minimum of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a maximum of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The legislation barred outside groups from passing out food and water to those in line within 150 feet.
The law also handed more election authority to the GOP-controlled state legislature. It states that the General Assembly is to select the chair of the state elections board, rather than the board being chaired by the Georgia secretary of state. It also shortens run-offs from nine weeks to four.
The state election board can also now investigate county election boards and has the power to suspend county election superintendents — though the board can only suspend four at a time.
The law was enacted after a Democratic sweep in the Peach State, which Trump lost to President Biden by just over 11,000 votes. Trump alleged mass election fraud in the state, and sparred with GOP Gov. Brain Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s handling of elections. Nine weeks after the November election, Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lost to Democrats John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.