ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – US Congressman and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s statewide Voting Rights Tour stopped in east Orlando to discuss Florida GOP’s road blocks on democracy.
“Doesn’t seem like the governor’s an expert on elections,” Congressman Crist quipped as he opened the conversation on voting rights with the roundtable guests. “And that’s really a concern.”
“Democracy’s a precious thing,” he continued. “It’s only because of our form of government that we have the opportunity to choose our leaders at the ballot box, but only if the ballot box is respected, and you’re respected.
“…We have a governor and legislature…that feel like they want to make it more difficult for folks to mail in their ballots, or even get their mail-in ballot…putting in road block after road block to make it that much more difficult to exercise…a precious right, the right to vote. It really is the foundation of everything we want to do and accomplish in our state, our communities, to lift all people, and this just makes it harder to do that and they know it, and that’s why they’re doing it.”
He also pointed out, “…you’re used to hearing efforts like this in other countries that are unlike America, and it’s happening right here in Florida…”
The event was hosted by Alianza for Progress, a Puerto Rican and Hispanic advocacy group with statewide support. Florida State Representative Travaris L. McCurdy (D-Orlando) introduced Congressman Crist and criminal defense attorney Ryan Yadav moderated the conversation.
Other roundtable speakers included Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder and consulting director for Equal Ground Action Fund and Education Fund, Equal Ground’s Faith Outreach State Director Pastor Marcus McCoy, Jr., Allison Lee, Equal Ground’s Orange County Coordinator, and two concerned voters: paralegal Kiana Vazquez, speaking from the Hispanic perspective (as a Puerto Rican), and a senior voter, Valerie Baker, a pastor and retired nurse who is also a military veteran.
Both Kiana and Valerie thanked Crist for the executive order extending voting hours he signed as then Republican governor of Florida.
Crist spent much of the conversation answering questions about the For the People Voting Rights bill and discussing ways to take action on statewide voting policy should Crist win.
State Rep. McCurdy shared his frustrations with the majority-Republican legislature’s it-is-what-it-is approach. He noted that several important bills were drafted in criminal justice reform and other areas, but “we can’t get anything done, we can’t get anything heard, we can’t bring any money home, we can’t get any projects funded because they control everything.” He added, “They told us blatantly on the floor; their response was three words–because they can. And that’s dangerous…”
In response, Congressman Crist described a scenario in which he wins the 2022 election and would advocate for McCurdy, threatening the use of a veto pen in the worst case scenario that a Republican state representative has a bill equally important to him or herself, but wouldn’t hear McCurdy’s.
Monday’s Orlando stop was Crist’s second stop on his Voting Rights Tour. Earlier in the day, his first stop was in Tampa. Today’s tour leg includes a stop in Gainesville at 10am EST and a 2pm stop in Tallahassee.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org