A federal judge in Florida has ruled that 32 counties in the state must provide ballots in Spanish in time for the 2020 presidential election.
As noted by Palm Beach Post, Chief Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida Gainesville Division ruled that the Spanish-ballots must be in place for Florida’s primary election scheduled for March 17, 2020.
Florida has 67 total counties, so just shy of half of all counties will now be required to administer Spanish-ballots and provide assistance to anyone who does not speak English but can legally vote.
“Compliance with this Order is not optional. While the vast majority of supervisors of election are upstanding professionals who follow the law and court orders, do difficult but necessary work under tight timelines, and are often subjects of multiple bouts of litigation, there may be some who selectively interpret parts of this court’s orders or otherwise avoid compliance,” Walker wrote in his 16-page ruling.
He added: “This court will not hesitate to use every tool the law provides to enforce this order.”
The Palm Beach Post reported the decision, saying, “The order came in a case focused on Puerto Rican voters and part of the federal Voting Rights Act aimed at people who were educated in schools where the predominant language was not English.”
Here’s more from Fox News:
This order follows a previous injunction in the case, which stated the counties must provide sample ballots in Spanish for the November 2018 election. Walker’s latest order called for similar sample ballots should there be any election between now and the March 2020 primary.
The judge did recognize that the Florida government has promised to take steps on their own that would provide Spanish language ballots. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee have already initiated the process of creating new rules that would require the state to provide voters with Spanish-language ballots in time for the 2020 general election.
Judge Walker noted that DeSantis and Lee “should be lauded” for their efforts, but that the injunction is necessary to make sure Spanish-speaking citizens are covered until the new rules are in effect, and in case the new rules are not sufficiently compliant with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
In 2018, 837,000 Hispanics were registered Democrats, 775,000 Independents, and 527,000 Republicans.
This is the second time this month that a major state has taken action before the 2020 election.
Last week, a panel of federal judges ordered Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature to redraw more than three dozen state and U.S. congressional districts before the 2020 presidential election.
The ruling is undoubtedly a big win for Democrats and could have a major impact on upcoming elections.
The panel of judges gave Republicans until Aug. 1 to approve the district maps, which must be signed by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
If lawmakers fail to redraw the maps and get them signed by the Democratic governor, the judges said they will draw the new congressional maps themselves.