Calling it “critically important,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday directed the Department of State “to address the availability of Spanish language ballots” for future elections.
He called on the department to develop regulations that also would cover Spanish-language voter assistance, including for the 2020 election.
“Spanish-speaking Floridians (must be) able to exercise their right to vote without any language barriers,” the Governor said in a statement.
“Florida has a significant Spanish-speaking population and our state is home to many Puerto Ricans who moved here after the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” he added.
“These fellow citizens should be able to fully participate in our democracy, which is why I am directing the Department of State to address voting accessibility issues for Florida’s Spanish-speaking community statewide.”
A press release from the Governor’s Office said “voter-related materials are already provided in Spanish at the state-level. Currently, 46 counties are subject to varying requirements to accommodate voters who speak other languages, including 13 counties required under federal law to provide bilingual ballots and election materials.”
Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, Florida’s chief elections officer and a DeSantis appointee, said one of her “top priorities is ensuring that all Floridians have a fair and equal opportunity to vote in our elections.
“I applaud Gov. DeSantis for his leadership on addressing the availability of Spanish-language ballots, and I look forward to working with Supervisors of Elections and other stakeholders as we move through the rule-making process.”