Charlie Crist gave a brief introduction before Vice President Joe Biden spoke at Mout Hermon, a black church in Fort Lauderdale, Sunday afternoon.
“You can early vote up until 4 o’clock,” Crist said, shortly before 3 p.m. “ I heard some tried to make it a little longer but you know how things go sometimes in Florida. ... I’m on your side and Rick’s not.”
(Here is our background about Broward’s late attempt to extend early voting which was rejected by the state.)
Biden reflected back on the civil rights movement and efforts to desegregate movie theaters, push for voting access and fighting housing discrimination. He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King’s words from the Selma jail, African-American poet Maya Angelou and said he was here to deliver a simple message from President Obama:
“He has had your back, you’ve got to have his back. ... Give him some governors he can work with.”
Biden bashed Scott for “eviscerating” education and for giving tax breaks to the wealthy and for trying to reduce voting access.
He said that Scott made “repeated efforts to make it harder for ya’ll to vote,” Biden said.
In 2011 under Scott, Florida reduced early voting but after the long lines in 2012 the state overhauled the voting law in 2013.
While waiting for Biden, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair from Weston, criticized Scott for education cuts and for the failure of the state to expand Medicaid. Scott initially opposed expanding Medicaid, later flip flopped in support of it but didn’t lobby for it and the Legislature rejected it.
Crist is hoping that Democrats in South Florida turn out at higher numbers than they did in 2010 when Alex Sink lost to Scott. Through Saturday, Broward’s turnout was about 21 percent but the full turnout won’t be known until Tuesday night.
Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, acknowledged Broward’s poor showing during the last governor’s race. But he expressed optimism that Broward will turn out in greater numbers this time.
“Four years ago we did not turn out like we should have,” he said. “The numbers this year are up in Broward County.”
Broward has surpassed early and absentee voting from 2010 days before election day. But a key question remains unknown: are more Broward voters turning out simply before election day or will overall turnout in Broward be higher than in the past? Broward turnout was 41 percent in 2010.
After Biden speaks, Crist plans to march with Democratic voters from New Hope Community Church, another nearby Fort Lauderdale church, to the early voting site at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.
Through Saturday, the library has been nearly in the middle in terms of turnout among the 20 early voting sites. The most crowded sites have been at sites in Coral Springs, Tamarac and Pembroke Pines.