Former Gov. Charlie Crist bashed Gov. Rick Scott twice by name during a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday for signing an election law that helped suppress the vote and turn Florida into a late-night TV joke.
Crists Senate Judiciary Committee testimony came just hours after the release of a new poll showing hes more popular than the current governor, who is preparing to face his predecessor a Republican-turned Democrat in the 2014 elections.
Scott earlier Wednesday acknowledged on CNN that some fixes might be needed for the election law he signed in 2011. That law cut back the days of in-person early voting and helped make the ballot longer, which led to long lines.
Weve got to go back and look at the number of days of early voting we have, said Scott, who has repeatedly stated that he signed the law to improve elections, not rig the system for Republicans.
Still, Scotts statements Wednesday contrasted with his responses when asked about his refusal to extend early in-person voting during the election.
"We did the right thing," Scott said at the time.
Hours after Scotts CNN interview, Crist testified in Washington and called for a possible federal law to prevent a repeat of what happened in Florida in November. Crist said the law Scott signed was designed to give Republicans a "partisan" edge.
Crist pointed out that, when he was governor, he tried to give more former felons the right to vote and that he also issued an executive order in 2008 that kept the polls open longer for early in-person voting, which is heavily used by Democrats, independents and minorities, a Miami Herald analysis showed.
Factoring in Crists executive order, Florida in 2008 had a cumulative 120 hours of early voting over 14 days. Four years later, Scott insisted that the number of early voting hours be held at 96 over eight days.
The lines especially in South Florida swelled.
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.
Crist, however, never mentioned that local election supervisors could have opened more early voting sites or that some precincts were ill-equipped to handle the crush of voters. Thats a local, not a state, responsibility.
Crists testimony came after Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat Crist endorsed in the just-ended elections along with President Obama.
Floridas 2011 election law changes were politically motivated, Nelson said, adding that the provisions were clearly designed to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters and not, as the Republican sponsors in the Legislature contended, to prevent voter fraud.
Nelson said Republicans throughout the country launched this campaign tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded partly by the conservative Koch brothers.
To bolster his case, Nelson submitted a deposition from a federal court case in which a former Republican Party of Florida attorney admitted he helped draft a version of the bill Scott later signed.
When asked: do you think that voter fraud is a problem? He says: No, said Nelson, who also criticized the laws voter-registration-drive limitations, which a judge later blocked.