Voter suppression is alive and well in Florida where our election protection volunteers reported multiple voting rights violations as well as coercion during early voting and we secured an emergency order in response to the violation of a federal injunction
Orlando, Florida: Teams of election protection monitors mobilized across the state over the past couple of days to monitor for potential voting rights violations when they happen. Teams from Duval County to St. Lucie reported multiple concerning situations ranging from violations of a federal injunction on language access all the way to voters who were told to submit a blank ballot and forfeiting their vote in the midterms.
In response to these developments, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Demos and co-counsel in the Rivera v. Detzner pending litigation filed an emergency legal request for court intervention yesterday and today a Federal Judge issued an order mandating Duval County to comply with the preliminary injunction that was issued two months ago and provide Spanish Language Assistance. Also, through the Election Protection coalition, have launched an investigation into further allegations.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, along with our partners, has mobilized across the state through the Cada Voto Cuenta initiative and in conjunction with the Election Protection coalition to defend the Puerto Rican and Latino vote in Florida with an emphasis on defending bilingual Spanish access, a right that is outlined by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In the 2016 election, we unveiled an app called Cada Voto Cuenta and today we are excited to announce that the app is being used again to help us identify voting rights violations and respond. Earlier this year, we filed Rivera v. Detzner, a lawsuit to enforce compliance of section 4(e) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 32 counties and a preliminary order was issued to require all 32 counties to provide minimal bilingual language assistance.
“Our mission in the State of Florida and other parts of the country is to protect the Latino and Puerto Rican vote. We refuse to allow election officials to rob the vote of eligible Latino voters so that they can participate fully in the 2018 midterms or in any election,” said Kira Romero-Craft, Managing Attorney at LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s Orlando office.
“All eligible citizens must have the same opportunity to cast a ballot, which includes access to election materials that make it possible for them to do so,” said Chiraag Bains, Director of Legal Strategies at Demos. “Trying to hold an English-only election in Duval County, which has a significant Spanish-speaking population, is a classic form of voter suppression. In this case, it was even more egregious because Duval County defied a court order requiring language access for Puerto Rican voters under the Voting Rights Act,” Bains added.
“It is imperative that this coalition of lawyers fight these underpublicized battles that can make the difference in tight elections. Voter suppression was the fight that Dr. King championed and unfortunately we are still fighting this battle,” Hawk Newsome, President of Black Lives Caucus.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF: works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education.
Demos: is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.
Black Lives Caucus: is a nonpartisan political action committee focused on bringing about positive change in our society through the democratic process. Our goal is to hold elected officials, and candidates seeking office responsible