As citizens of Florida faced a public health emergency created by the COVID-19 virus, which threated the health and well-being of millions of Americans, shuttered schools and businesses, and led public health officials to recommend that Americans remain at home and avoid public gatherings, Florida’s presidential preference primary (“PPP”) continued in a vacuum, as if the well-being of the state’s electorate was not at stake as well. On March 16, 2020 Dēmos, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice, and PRLDEF, sued on behalf of Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, and individual Florida voters to force Florida to provide voters with safe alternatives to casting a ballot at their polling place on Election Day.
On March 17, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied plaintiffs the necessary immediate relief, allowing the election underway to continue, but suggesting that future elections could be remedied by our lawsuit.
At the close of polls on Election Day, having heard harrowing accounts of closed polling sites, poll worker absence, and real fear for the health and safety of our plaintiffs’ families, we renewed our request for the District Court to order relief, allowing plaintiffs unable to cast a ballot in person on Election Day in Florida to not be stripped of their voice in our democracy at this critical moment.
On March 18, the Court denied our renewed request for relief and denied in part our request for a preliminary injunction, insomuch as it related to the March 17, 2020 election. The preliminary injunction, as it relates to future elections, is scheduled for expedited discovery and briefing.