Judge makes ruling on bilingual ballots

- Voting rights advocates are commending the swift ruling from District Judge Mark Walker, ordering all Florida counties to comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

This provides voting and election materials in both English and in Spanish.

The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed in August by the LatinoJustice Group. 

Kira Romero-Craft, the managing attorney, said they're pleased with the ordinance. 

"Everything that you expect to receive in English, a Spanish speaker should expect that information as well," she said.

The lawsuit named 32 counties. 

In Lake County, Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays said the ruling will not affect them.

"It's no big deal at all because for the primary we've had Spanish language sample ballots," he said. "We had translation services available through early voting and on election day. We've had bilingual speakers in the polling places as well."

The ordinance only requires sample ballots to be bilingual. 

The court stopped shy of ordering a full compliance because of the November election deadline. 

"We know that this was a compromise," said Romero-Craft.

Hays said if the judge did decide to make the ballots in both English and in Spanish, it would use more materials and confuse voters. 

"It costs more money, but more than that it's causing many more opportunities for inaccuracies to come in," he said.

Romero-Craft said next election cycle, the LatinoJustice organization may push for ballots in both languages.

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