News Analysis Mar 29, 2021 5:59 PM EST

WaPo head 'fact checker' spreads disinformation about Georgia's new election reforms

The narrative that has been crafted is that Georgia is disallowing people from receiving food and water while waiting on line to cast their votes. This is entirely false.

WaPo head 'fact checker' spreads disinformation about Georgia's new election reforms
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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Glenn Kessler, the head fact-checker for the Washington Post got his facts fouled up again on Monday when he claimed that the state of Delaware does not have prohibitions against bribery and electioneering as Georgia does. He made this claim despite sharing the salient text of both laws and further spread disinformation by tweeting "No, Delaware doesn't specifically prohibit food or water at the polls like Georgia."

Delaware's law doesn't mention food and water specifically, but the effect is the same. Food and water can be distributed by non-partisan poll workers, but cannot be handed out by campaign workers or partisan volunteers.

It's not the first time Kessler has been busted for exhibiting his bias in the form of "fact checking." In January, Kessler said outright that the new president would not be held to the same standards of factualness as the old president.

Georgia passed new voting laws on Friday that leftist media loudly decried as racist. This is primarily due to the fact that Georgia will now require a voter ID for citizens to cast their votes. These ID's can be obtained free of charge. A provision in the law to prevent electioneering at polling places and bribery has also come under fire.

The narrative that has been crafted is that Georgia is disallowing people from receiving food and water while waiting on line to cast their votes. This is entirely false.

What the laws prohibit is the distribution of these kinds of prohibitions by political operatives. Non-partisan poll workers are not prevented from giving out water to those waiting to cast their votes. Electioneering is prohibited within 150 feet of a polling place.

President Joe Biden issued a statement slamming the new laws. "It makes it a crime to provide water to voters while they wait in line," Biden said, though it very clearly does not. This prompted many to note that Delaware, Biden's home state, has similar prohibitions.

The Washington Post dug into those allegations, that Biden could be slamming a new law in Georgia that is remarkably similar to a standing law in Delaware. The paper printed the comparable text from Delaware, and then said the two laws were not similar.

Here's the Delaware law, as printed by the Washington Post: "Whoever, either in or out of this State, receives or accepts, or offers to receive or accept, or pays, transfers or delivers, or offers, or promises to pay, transfer or deliver, or contributes or offers, or promises to contribute to another to be paid or used, any money, or other valuable thing as a compensation, inducement or reward for the giving or withholding or in any manner influencing the giving or withholding a vote at any primary election held for the purpose of selecting delegates or representatives to any political convention thereafter to be held for the purpose of selecting candidates for public office or for the purpose of selecting delegates to a national political convention thereafter to be held for the purpose of nominating candidates for the office of President and Vice President of the United States, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 or imprisoned not less than 1 month nor more than 3 years, or both."

The Washington Post then stated that "Delaware's law is not nearly as specific as other state laws. There is certainly no mention of food or water as a possible bribe. (We should also note that Delaware prohibits electioneering within 50 feet of the voting facility, compared to 150 feet in Georgia.)"

The language of the Georgia bill clearly states that the bribing people for votes is what is being legally disallowed, as is electioneering at a polling place. It reads: "No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established;  (2) Within any polling place; or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place."

As part of their fact check, the Washington Post reached out to Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official, who said that the issue wasn't the odd bottle of water, but that "This giving of food and water wasn't just that. People were bringing food trucks to come out and vote."

Sterling said that of course volunteers "can still set up tables with water or snacks. They can donate them to counties for workers to distribute."

The Washington Post story goes on to state that many, many states, both those that lean conservative and those that are more left-leaning, have prohibitions against electioneering and bribery. Delaware doesn't specify that food and water aren't to be given out, but if food and water were being given out by partisan, campaign workers engaging in electioneering, that would in fact be a violation of Delaware law.

This falsehood didn't stop White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki from furthering the claims that Georgia's election laws, which also expand early voting, are unjust. Psaki was asked about Biden's statement that these laws were the "most pernicious thing." The reporter asked if the White House believed that businesses should boycott Georgia over these laws.

Psaki said "they should elect new leaders," and didn't take any notice of the fact that nearly everything that's been said about these laws have been a lie.

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