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Get the latest coverage of the 2021 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Crist: Congress Needs To Combat Florida's 'Jim Crow' Voting Restrictions

Three people - a white woman, a white man, and a Black woman - sit on one side of  a table and speak to a person in a wheelchair.
Steve Newborn
/
WUSF Public Media
Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, left, with Congressman Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and State Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, right.

"I mean, this is happening not just in Florida, but it's Florida, Georgia, Texas, other states," Crist said. "And so that's why you have the federal government. You have to come in and stop these Jim Crow laws that they're passing to discriminate."

Charlie Crist took aim at Florida's new voting restrictions Tuesday in Tampa, as the candidate for governor renewed his call for federal legislation to overturn the laws.

Congressman Crist, D-St. Petersburg, said the new law discourages the disabled, senior citizens and minorities from casting their ballots.

"I believe it's anti-seniors, it's anti-disabled," he said after a roundtable on voting rights at a crowded St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood. "I can't imagine the cold, callous person that would support something like this. It's not what Florida deserves."

Florida Republicans say the new state law would reduce fraud. It includes restrictions on who can drop off a voter's ballot, forces voters to choose a drop box location, and requires election officials to supervise those boxes in person.

Crist says one solution is Senate Bill 1, which has major hurdles to overcome before being passed in Congress. The For the People Act would guarantee universal access to mail-in voting and 15 days of early voting in every state.

"Basically, it says that elections have to be open," Crist said about the bill. "They have to be transparent. They have to be convenient. And you can't put up these silly, stupid roadblocks to people being able to cast their ballot."

"I mean, this is happening not just in Florida, but it's Florida, Georgia, Texas, other states. And so that's why you have the federal government. You have to come in and stop these Jim Crow laws that they're passing to discriminate."

The roundtable included Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, State Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, and Ken Welch, a former Pinellas County Commissioner and candidate for St. Petersburg Mayor.

Photo of participants at voting rights roundtable
Steve Newborn
From left, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa; Congressman Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg; State Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa; and Ken Welch, former Pinellas County Commissioner and candidate for St. Petersburg mayor.

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