The claim: During his eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis, former President Barack Obama said mail-in voting is necessary because it is 'too dangerous' to be in crowded rooms.
Multiple posts on Facebook contain versions of quotes attributed to former President Barack Obama, who gave the eulogy for Lewis at his funeral in Atlanta.
"Obama tells a room packed full of people, that 'rooms packed full of people' are unsafe and that's why we must 'vote by mail," one of the posts reads. "You can't make this stupidity up."
A similar post includes a photo of the funeral with the words, "This is a photo of Obama in-person at an event packed full of people explaining that we need mail-in voting because it is too dangerous to pack rooms full of people for in-person events. Got it?"
"Really makes you think...," conservative author Benny Johnson wrote in the caption.
Posts misquote Obama, who never said that in-person events are 'too dangerous' or mail-in voting is a 'must'
Obama spent part of his eulogy for Lewis, a legendary civil rights activist, intoning the importance of the right to vote.
"We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s gonna be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick," Obama said.
That was the only mention of mail-in voting in the eulogy, according to a full transcript from USA TODAY.
And though he said that mailed-in ballots will be important to prevent sickness, Obama never said that people "must" vote by mail.
He also never said that in-person gatherings or "rooms full of people" are "too dangerous," or suggested that citizens who are comfortable voting in-person "needed" to vote by mail.
Funeral itself featured masks and social distance, though it sidestepped some guidelines
Though guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend mourners "convene in outdoors or in well-ventilated areas," the service for Lewis occurred in part inside Ebenezer Baptist Church.
A fact check by the Associated Press notes that "more than 100 family members and friends" attended the indoor service, in addition to three former presidents, members of Congress and civil rights activists.
Other public health recommendations about social distancing and mask-wearing were practiced at the funeral.
Photos of the event show that the vast majority of attendees — including Obama — wore face masks when they were not speaking, and many service-goers sat at a distance from each other in the pews.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, claims that Obama said mail-in voting is a "must" because in-person gatherings are "too dangerous" are FALSE. Obama did say that the upcoming election will "be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick," but never said "rooms full of people" or in-person polls are unacceptable.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, "Former President Barack Obama delivers a rousing eulogy: 'America was built by John Lewises'"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families"
- Associated Press, "Obama did not say ‘rooms full of people’ are unsafe during John Lewis eulogy"
- USA TODAY, "Rep. John Lewis funeral honors civil rights icon"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Posts online misquote Barack Obama at John Lewis funeral