A federal judge has ordered the State of Florida to provide all election ballots in Spanish starting with the 2020 election cycle.
The judge agreed with a group of voters born in Puerto Rico who said the lack of Spanish ballots limited their access to the polls and that the English-only ballots are a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“Compliance with this Order is not optional,” wrote Chief Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida Gainesville Division, according to Fox News. “This Court will not hesitate to use every tool the law provides to enforce this Order.”
The judge also re-affirmed that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and English-only ballots violate the rights of those raised and educated in Spanish.
Walker ordered that all primary and general election ballots must also be printed in Spanish starting with the ballots in March of 2020.
But the judge also praised the State of Florida for its plans to address the situation on its own. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee have already begun the process of providing Spanish-language ballots in all 32 counties in time for the 2020 elections. The government “should be applauded” for the effort, Walker said.
Walker noted that his ruling is meant to ensure that greater ballot access is applied.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.