Racial Justice Organizations Issue Statement on Florida Ruling Denying Emergency Voter Accommodations Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
Tallahassee, Fla. – On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied a motion filed by a coalition of racial justice organizations to protect the right to vote of all Floridians impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic (Read the Judge's decision here). The complaint (you can read it here), filed by Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida represented by Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, requested Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee extend the deadline to request and submit Vote-by-Mail ballots, extend early voting, and allowing curbside voting. In response, the coalition offered the following statement.
“We are disappointed that the court denied our motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to expand vote-by-mail opportunities in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, but the case is not over. In his order denying the motion, District Court Judge Robert Hinkle recognized the seriousness of the threat presented by the coronavirus crisis. Although he declined to expand voting options while the polls are open today, he made no ruling on the merits and left open the possibility of appropriate post-election measures that we believe can and should be taken to ensure voters impacted by current public health emergency are able to participate in Florida’s presidential preference primary. We intend to continue fighting for expanded voting opportunities so that every Floridian can have their voice heard in this election and in November.”
“Today, we urge voters who are unable or unwilling to go to the polls to request an emergency vote-by-mail ballot from their county Supervisor of Elections. To get an emergency ballot, the voter or someone the voter designates has to go to the Supervisor of Elections office (some counties may offer this service at other locations) and request a vote-by-mail ballot. The voter or the person the voter sends must also submit an affidavit explaining the emergency that prevents the voter from voting at the polls (available here: English PDF/ Español PDF). If the voter is sending someone else to pick up their ballot, the voter and the person they appoint also have to complete a form designating that individual (available here: English PDF/ Español PDF). To be counted, ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. today. We are interested in hearing about the experience of any voters who choose this option for casting their ballot today.”
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. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.
Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org
Demos is a dynamic think-and-do tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Through cutting-edge policy research, inspiring litigation, and deep relationships with grassroots organizations, Demos champions solutions that will create a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity. To learn more visit www.demos.org.
The New Florida Majority (NewFM) is an independent political organization working to increase the voting and political power of historically marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida. For more information on NewFM, please visit our Website at www.newfloridamajority.org
Dream Defenders is an organization of multiracial, young people in Florida founded in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder that are organizing towards a new vision for safety away from prisons. To learn more about us, please visit dreamdefenders.org.