Politics

Charlie Crist: Elections Were Better When I Was in Charge

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 20, 2012 3:55 AM

Charlie Crist

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist | Sunshine State News Archives

Hours after Gov. Rick Scott offered a few proposals on how to potentially improve the voting process in Florida, former governor and highly-speculated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist was in Washington, D.C., rolling out what could be considered a portion of his future campaign speech.

Appearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Crist claimed Florida was heading in the right direction to reform its image from the highly controversial 2000 election. And when problems of long lines were encountered in 2008, it was his directive to extend hours that saved the day.

“In the end, some 54 percent of Floridians cast a ballot before Election Day in 2008 -- and thanks to the steps we had taken, despite a record 8.3 million votes cast that year, we knew the outcome of our state’s election before the 11 o'clock news,” Crist told the committee.

But since Crist left office following his failed run as an independent for U.S. Senate, he said Florida has regressed in its handling of the election process, as the Republican-controlled Legislature implemented changes designed “to make it harder for some Floridians to legally vote.”

Crist, invoking Scott’s name twice during the committee appearance, pointed to the reduction in early voting days from 14 to eight -- without noting that the overall hours were not reduced -- along with restriction on voter registration for hindering the ability of Floridians to vote.

“The outcome of these decisions was obvious,” said Crist, who suggested federal officials consider national standards for elections.

“Florida, which four years earlier was a model for efficiency, became once again a late-night TV joke.”

In 2008, with questions being mounted against the work of the community organizing group ACORN, the new state law in Florida that drew heat was the “no match, no vote” law that required identification at the polls, and that if one’s driver’s license ID number or Social Security number failed to match, the voter had to cast a provisional ballot or fix the mistake.

Earlier Wednesday, during a feisty interview by Soledad O’Brien on CNN, Scott said the state needs to consider giving supervisors more flexibility in where early voting could be held, making the length of ballots shorter and to reconsider extending the number of days of early voting.

“We do need change, we’ve got to have a bipartisan group come together, Republicans and Democrats, and say we’ve got to improve this, we’ve got to restore the confidence of all Americans in the election process in Florida,” Scott said.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.


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