“Compliance with this Order is not optional.”— Chief Judge Mark Walker
Chief Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District has ordered Florida to begin providing voting ballots in Spanish, beginning with the 2020 elections.
The federal judge heard out voters who were born in Puerto Rico, who claim that they have a hard time voting due to the language barrier. They also said that the ballots only being in English is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“Compliance with this Order is not optional,” the judge wrote, “This Court will not hesitate to use every tool the law provides to enforce this Order.”
Judge Walker reportedly noted that Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act “prohibits English-only elections for those citizens — yes, citizens — educated in
Puerto Rico in Spanish.” (emphasis in original) Therefore, he ordered that the 32 counties in question must provide voters with ballots in Spanish starting with Florida’s primary election scheduled for March 17, 2020.
The judge did recognize that the Florida government has promised to take steps on their own that would provide Spanish language ballots. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee have already inititated the process of creating new rules that would require the state to provide voters with Spanish-language ballots in time for the 2020 general election.
This is a topic that I think many people have mixed feelings on. We do want voting to be fair for US citizens. However, English is our official language. If you do not learn our language, we shouldn’t cater to you. I wouldn’t move to Mexico and expect them to offer things in Spanish. So why should it work in reverse?