Former Florida Governor Charles Crist Jr. on Wednesday urged Congress to consider new national standards to make voting easier and more accessible. Speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights, Crist, who was a Republican when he was governor from 2007 to 2011 and is now a Democrat, said senators should “think long and hard” about national standards that include a “lengthy” window for in-person early voting, and other “common sense provisions.” In Florida, many people who wanted to vote early during 2012 election had to wait in lines for hours, making the state “a late-night TV joke,” he said. “I think that what all of us want are free, open and fair elections for everyone,” Crist said.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the work of Congress on voting rights is “far from done,” despite major advancements made during previous generations. Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas and South Carolina have “onerous and confusing voter identification requirements” that led to problems at the polls, and misleading political ads and robocalls confused voters across the country and suppressed the vote, he noted. “Barriers to voting continue to exist and evolve,” Leahy said.