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.
"Barriers to voting continue to exist and evolve," Leahy said.
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said efforts to protect the voting rights of eligible voters are important. But states also have the responsibility to prevent voter fraud, he said.
The Republican said a report released by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States in February showed that about 24 million voter registrations have major inaccuracies or are invalid.
"Voting is a basis of our representative system of government and ought to be preserved for all people," Grassley said.