Court Grants Emergency Motion Requiring Compliance with Preliminary Injunction by Ensuring Spanish-Language Facsimile Ballots Are Made Available at All Polling Sites in 32 Florida Counties on Election Day

On November 5, 2018, the federal court for the Northern District of Florida issued an order granting an emergency motion filed on Sunday, November 4, 2018, requiring the Florida Secretary of State to ensure compliance with the Court’s September 10 Preliminary Injunction Order by ensuring that Spanish-language facsimile ballots are made available to voters protected by Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act at all polling sites in 32 Florida counties on Election Day, November 6, 2018.

On August 16, 2018, Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with co-counsel at Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and SEIU, filed a class-action complaint on behalf of more than 30,000 Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans in the 32 counties, as well as several civic engagement organizations, and sought a preliminary injunction to allow Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans the ability to cast a meaningful vote in the upcoming and future elections.  The case is Marta Valentina Rivera Madera, et al. v. Ken Detzner, et al., N.D. Fla. Case No. 1:18-cv-00152.

On September 7, 2018, the federal court for the Northern District of Florida issued a preliminary injunction (with a corrected order issued September 10, 2018) requiring Florida’s Secretary of State to direct the Supervisors of Elections in the 32 Florida counties to make available a facsimile sample ballot in Spanish to voters protected by Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act, and to publish the sample ballot in advance of the election along with instructions in Spanish for how to use it to help cast a vote.

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, plaintiffs learned that the Supervisor of Elections for Duval County (one of the 32 counties at issue in the lawsuit) was not making Spanish-language facsimile ballots available at early voting locations, in violation of the district court’s preliminary injunction order.  Plaintiffs immediately filed an emergency motion requesting an order ensuring compliance with the preliminary injunction.  The court granted the requested order in material part.  The court denied relief with respect to early voting because early voting has already ended in most counties including Duval, but granted the emergency motion with respect to Election Day and ordered the Secretary of State to “ensure compliance with th[e] Court’s order on preliminary injunction” by ensuring that “facsimile sample ballots in Spanish shall be available to all voters who fall within the ambit of Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act” at all polling sites in the 32 counties on Election Day.

You can read the Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion for Immediate Relief here.