The global coronavirus pandemic threatens to disrupt the Presidential Preference Primary (“PPP”) election in Florida, scheduled for tomorrow, March 17, 2020, and cause large-scale voter disenfranchisement falling hardest on communities of color and other historically vulnerable populations. The President of the United States and the Governor of Florida have each declared a state of emergency. Florida has reported 149 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four deaths to date, with every expectation that these numbers will rise. Universities have sent students home, people are remaining in quarantine, poll workers are dropping out, and Supervisors of Elections have closed or moved 112 polling places in 22 counties, in many cases less than a week before the election. The predictable result is the denial of the vote to untold numbers of Floridians who had planned to vote in person on Election Day—including those who are elderly or have health conditions and cannot get to the polls without tremendous risk, university students who are no longer present in their county of registration because their dorms have closed, and those who venture out but encounter long lines and confusion at the polls. And yet the State of Florida (“the State”) has failed to take reasonable emergency measures necessary for voter participation in the face of this crisis. Accordingly, injunctive relief ordering the extension of vote-by-mail options and other accommodations at polling places is necessary to protect the fundamental right to vote.
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