In a prelude to a long and bitter campaign, former Gov. Charlie Crist pointedly criticized Gov. Rick Scott during a U.S. Senate hearing Wednesday over an elections law that led to voting troubles and helped turn Florida into a “late-night TV joke.” Crist’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony came just hours after a new poll showed he’s more popular than the current governor, who is preparing to face his predecessor on the 2014 ballot. Before and since Election Day, Scott has been under fire for an elections law he signed that cut back the days of in-person early voting and increased the size of voters’ ballots, which led to embarrassingly long lines.
Hours before Crist’s testimony, Scott appeared on CNN and blunted some of the criticisms by saying the law needs to be fixed.
“We’ve got to go back and look at the number of days of early voting we have,” said Scott, who had previously described the law as the “right thing” to stop voter fraud.
“People are frustrated in our state,” Scott said. “We’ve got to restore confidence in our election” system.
Crist suggested that Scott was the one to blame because he signed the election law in 2011 and, this year, the governor refused to extend in-person early voting hours despite lines that stretched for hours and discouraged many South Floridians from voting.
Crist contrasted that record with his own as governor in 2008, when he extended early voting hours.
“As Gov. Scott refused to take action to ease the lines, in some cases, those lines extended to six and seven hours,” Crist testified.
“The outcome of these decisions was quite obvious,” Crist said. “Florida, which four years earlier was a model for efficiency, became once again a late-night TV joke.”