Litigation Filed Seeking Bilingual Elections in 32 Florida Counties

On August 16, 2018, Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with co-counsel at Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and SEIU, filed a complaint in the federal district court for the Northern District of Florida challenging the failure of the Florida Secretary of State and 32 County Supervisors of Elections to provide Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans bilingual ballots, election materials, and assistance, in violation of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The complaint was filed on behalf of Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, who moved to Florida following Hurricane Maria, a class of more than 30,000 similarly-situated Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, and the civic engagement organizations Faith in Florida, Hispanic Federation, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, UnidosUS, and Vamos4PR.  The case is Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, et al. v. Ken Detzner, et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-00152.

Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act prohibits states from denying the right to vote of Puerto Rican-educated American citizens based on their inability to speak, read, or understand English.  The Puerto Rican community surged in Florida following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, but many Florida counties still run English-only elections.  Courts have held that Section 4(e) requires the provision of Spanish-language ballots, registration and informational materials, and bilingual assistance to protect the rights of Puerto Ricans living stateside to be able to cast an informed and effective vote.

Along with the complaint, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking relief by September 14, 2018, to provide time to translate ballots and other materials and hire bilingual poll workers before the November 6, 2018 general election.  Plaintiffs also filed motions for certification of a plaintiff class of more than 30,000 affected Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, and for certification of a defendant class of the Supervisors of Elections of those 32 counties.

You can read the following pleadings here:

Complaint

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Motion for Plaintiff Class Certification

Motion for Defendant Class Certification

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