Backfire: Abrams gets two Pinocchios for doubling down after WaPo fact check

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Quit while you’re behind. Stacey Abrams tried doubling down on Joe Biden’s lies about the new voting law in Georgia, claiming that the law “actually eliminates hours of voting and mandates only a shortened period of time.” Biden got four Pinocchios last month for similar claims, and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler dropped another two on Abrams for attempting to rehabilitate Biden’s false attacks:

However, in the section of the hearing that went viral, Abrams made her point with more nuance than Biden. She made it clear she was talking about early voting. She also indicated she was talking about a theoretical possibility — that counties could choose to limit hours, even though those same counties currently allow longer hours. As she put it, it is “optional” for the counties.

Elsewhere in the hearing, Abrams was not quite as nuanced: “Another example is the falsity that this expands hours for voting. Yes, it codifies that you can vote between 9 to 5 as business hours, but for 78 percent of Georgians, prior to this bill the hours for voting during early voting was 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. So this actually eliminates hours of voting and mandates only a shortened period of time.”

Nonsense, Kessler retorts:

A Georgia election official had told the Fact Checker that the change was made in part because some rural county election offices only operated part time during the week, not a full eight-hour day, so the shift to more specific times makes it clear they must be open every weekday for at least eight hours.

Plus, as Abrams’ spokesperson conceded, there were no requirements to run 7-7 or even 9-5. The minimum requirements are new, although many counties ran 7-7 anyway. Her spokesperson complained that the new law prevents counties from operating past 7 pm, but not only is that not true, it’s also only happened once under the previous law:

When we asked for an example of a county that had stayed open later than 7 p.m. in the last election, he pointed to Lee County. When we looked into it, it turned out it was just one location for one week — a library location with the hours of 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Under the new law, that location could be open for twice as long — say, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

D’oh! Abrams has been demagoguing this for weeks. One might have expected her team to have better arguments, or at least non-checkable arguments, for press inquiries. On the other hand, there has been little to no media interest (other than Kessler’s) at checking these claims. Small wonder Abrams and her team hasn’t done better in crafting fact-based criticisms of the Georgia law, even at this late stage.

Kessler does credit Abrams with adding more “nuance” to Biden’s flat-out lies. That gets her half off in the assignment of Pinocchios, but that’s the only concession:

Abrams leaves the impression that the previous hours were 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and avoids saying the previous law had a vague “normal business hours” standard that sometimes meant even less than 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For ordinary people not attuned to the debate over the Georgia law, her language misleadingly implies that voting is restricted to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., especially when she says the law “eliminates hours of voting.”

The bottom line is that the attacks on this bill have been, and continue to be, dishonest and manipulative. Abrams and Biden want to demagogue Georgia to sell people on Nancy Pelosi’s HR1, a bill that would essentially federalize elections. If more media outlets scrutinized these claims, perhaps it might put an end to them and allow for rational debate over best practices in elections.