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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Blasting Crist's voting rights reversal



In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, several black officials denounced Charlie Crist's "180 degree turn" on felons voting, saying he is a political opportunist who will stop at nothing to get elected.

"With two weeks to the election, it is Charlie come late. Not even lately. Just late," said state Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. She said the suggestion voters could be "bought off by a sudden change of heart is extremely insulting."

"I think we’re seeing (Crist) for what he really is, one who will do whatever it takes to win an election, a real opportunist," said state Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, D-Miami.

Crist said Tuesday that he now supports automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-convicts. He denied it was timed for the election.He previously said he wanted to streamline the process but not grant automatic restoration. Jim Davis, his Democratic opponent, has long supported automatic restoration.

UPDATE: Speaking to reporters at Bravo Supermarket, a Hispanic-owned grocery in Orlando, Crist said he wasn't concerned about criticism from black lawmakers. "This Cabinet has been very progressive in moving toward a more streamlined methodology for restoring civil rights." Referring to automatic restoration, he said:."I think the time is ripe. It's just happens to be where my heart is, and I'm going to express how I feel."

The clemency office Wednesday reported a current backlog of 35,427 cases as of July 1. That includes 29,786 cases where civil rights can be restored administratively without a hearing or full investigation.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:52pm]


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