TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and other top Republican strategists are leveling explosive allegations against the Republican Party of Florida.
They're accusing the GOP of leading an effort to suppress Democratic votes in the presidential election.
Crist, former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer and two GOP consultants tell the Palm Beach Post that Republican strategists hatched a plan in 2009 to reduce early voting in Florida because they believed it favored Democratic candidates and hurt Republicans.
Crist tells the paper Republicans were angry with him after he extended early voting hours in 2008 because they believed that action helped Barack Obama win the election.
After Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, Republicans passed several significant changes to the state's election law, including fewer early voting days. The law reduced early voting days from 14 to 8, but allowed counties to expand daily voting from eight hours to 12 hours.
At the time, Republicans argued the changes would target voter fraud. Greer tells the Palm Beach Post that's a marketing ploy.
Florida Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein says Floridians should not be surprised by the allegations.
"If you've watched the Republicans in this state, it's not surprising that their real intent was to suppress voters and there's a very clear and simple fix to this and that's to repeal their voter suppression bill."
"If you were one of the thousands of Floridians who had to stand in line for upwards of seven hours in order to cast your ballot, you know how difficult and how unnecessary that process was and the blame for this lies squarely with Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature."
Former Gov. Crist left the Republican Party. Greer is facing criminal charges for alleging stealing campaign funds from the party he once led.
Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Burgess says Floridians should keep those facts in mind when they consider the allegations.
"Jim Greer is facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing money from the RPOF, so anything he says should be considered in that light. Charlie Crist has a well-documented track record of double-talk and political opportunism, so nobody can trust anything he says anymore."
"RPOF has no plans to respond to any of Greer's ridiculous claims beyond making sure he is prosecuted for theft to the fullest extent of the law."
The Palm Beach Post quotes another GOP consultant, Wayne Bertsch, as saying Republicans were shocked by Democratic success in early voting in 2008 and wished to turn back Democratic voting.
First Coast News