Governor Ron DeSantis has announced that Spanish-language ballots will be offered in all Florida counties by Aug. 1 of this year. Both Sarasota and Manatee counties have not provided Spanish-language ballots in past elections, in spite of Sarasota having over 6,000 Latinx residents, according to AreaConnect.
A coalition of voting rights advocates groups saw to the implementation of these ballots by requesting a federal judge to require them in the state. The request was submitted on Apr. 9 and DeSantis announced that it would be fulfilled on Apr. 11, before the judge had responded.
“Outreach to a growing Spanish-speaking population in Florida is a smart move politically,” Professor of Political Science Jack Reilly said in an email interview.
Fellow Professor of Political Science Frank Alcock concurred.
“[It was a] low risk, sensible play that lends him some credit in the Hispanic community,” Alcock said.
According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Latinx voters voted Democrat in the 2018 Congressional midterm elections.
Of Florida’s 67 counties, 32 will be impacted by the requirement to offer Spanish-language ballots, including Sarasota and Manatee.
The likely reason that they were not offered in these counties before is a lack of prior local advocacy.
“Unless a given Supervisor of Elections wants to lead on the issue they can remain complacent with little pushback,” Alcock said.
With this change, accessibility of voting will increase for those who are more proficient in Spanish than English.
“I think that having ballots in Spanish is a great way to reach out to the Hispanic community and make our elections more democratic,” thesis student and former Spanish teaching assistant (TA) Cesar Chavez said.
Information for this article gathered from pewresearch.org, heraldtribune.com and areaconnect.com.