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Hearing Scheduled In Voting Rights Lawsuit

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Voting rights groups are suing the state of Florida to improve Spanish language assistance for voters. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Gainesville names Secretary of State Ken Detzner and 32 counties. It calls for Spanish language ballots and other election materials before the general election on November 6th.

The plaintiffs say it’s required under section 4-E of the Federal voting rights act, so that thousands of residents who were educated in Spanish speaking schools in Puerto Rico can vote.

“We’ve had, you know, people call us, residents call us that they’ve registered to vote, but then when they get the information, they don’t understand," said Betsy Franceschini, senior state director of programs and policies with the Hispanic Federation, one of the groups suing the state.

"And they feel like either they need somebody to speak in Spanish there, which in the majority [of cases] they don’t. But the ballot should be in Spanish.”

In a statement, the Florida Department of State said supervisors of elections should make voting accessible for all voters.
The Department of State provides all of its election materials in English and Spanish in accordance with the Voting Rights Act and this lawsuit does not dispute that fact. The Department believes that all Supervisors of Elections should continue making voting accessible for all voters including those whose first language is not English. This lawsuit names 32 locally-elected Supervisors of Elections who are responsible for voting in their counties and we will review it.

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