Last week, Georgia enacted voting restrictions that will disproportionately impact minority voters. But in an effort to counter widespread criticism of the law, Fox News personalities are falsely claiming that the legislation actually makes it easier to vote.
Georgia’s new law is the face of a nationwide campaign by Republican-controlled state legislatures to restrict voting access following the 2020 election. These measures were created in response to baseless claims of voter fraud that many Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures helped to propagate following President Joe Biden’s victory.
The New York Times recently published a closer look at the Georgia legislation, which found that it will “curtail ballot access for voters in booming urban and suburban counties, home to many Democrats.” The law limits the use of drop boxes, bans mobile voting centers except for emergencies declared by the governor, and shortens the time voters have to request an absentee ballot, among other restrictions.
During a White House press briefing on April 1, Fox Business reporter Ed Lawrence suggested that the Biden administration should reconsider its “tone” on the law after he noted that Biden has falsely claimed that the law would end voting hours at 5 p.m. Lawrence also pushed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's claim that the law expands voting access. After White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued that the law “limits voting access and makes it more difficult for people to engage in voting in Georgia,” Lawrence replied, “No, that’s actually not what the governor of Georgia has said.”
The same day on America Reports, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich argued that Biden had lied about numerous aspects of the law, including that “it limits voting. That’s not true. The law actually expands voting to weekends, has 17 days of early voting.” It’s true that changes to weekend voting would likely expand voting access in rural counties, yet Pavlich ignored the other limitations the law would impose and the fact that many more densely populated counties already offered the required number of weekend voting days.
The next morning on Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy complained about criticism of the law and opposition from some major companies. Doocy claimed, “They’ve actually made it easier for people to vote. That is a good thing. But it is being politicized and demonized by Democrats.” Doocy continued, “The problem is there’s so much misinformation out there, political propaganda put out there by the Democrats to make it seem like the Republicans are taking away your right to vote.”
Later during the same show, Fox host Will Cain argued that “voting has essentially been expanded in Georgia” and claimed that “there will now be drop boxes in every county.” But Cain failed to mention that the law actually limits the use of drop boxes, particularly in urban areas. From The New York Times:
For the 2020 election, there were 94 drop boxes across the four counties that make up the core of metropolitan Atlanta: Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett. The new law limits the same four counties to a total of, at most, 23 drop boxes, based on the latest voter registration data. The number could be lower depending on how many early-voting sites the counties provide.
There won’t just be fewer drop boxes. Instead of 24-hour access outdoors, the boxes must be placed indoors at government buildings and early-voting sites and will thus be unavailable for voters to drop off their ballots during evenings and other nonbusiness hours.
Lawrence appeared on America’s Newsroom on April 2, where he again disputed the Biden administration’s characterization of the law. In his report, Lawrence claimed that “the fact is the law expands early voting to include Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday was never used before as a voting day in Georgia.” In fact, many Black voters in Georgia have historically voted on Sundays prior to elections as part of “Souls to the Polls” events after attending church, and an earlier version of the Georgia law specifically attempted to outlaw Sunday voting.
Lawrence concluded the segment by arguing “the facts and words matter here,” but you wouldn’t know that from watching Fox’s coverage.