Federal judge rebukes Duval elections chief

Elections Supervisor Mike Hogan ordered to have Spanish-language sample ballots

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A federal judge has rebuked Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan for failing to comply with a court order to have sample ballots in Spanish available at early voting sites.

Nearly two months ago, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered that supervisors of elections in 32 Florida counties, including Duval, St Johns, Clay, Putnam, Columbia and Alachua have Spanish sample ballots available to voters.

The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office did not comply, so voting rights groups filed an emergency motion Sunday night. On Monday, Walker rebuked Hogan and ordered that sample ballots in Spanish be at all voting precincts on Election Day.

"The cause of this motion was Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan’s strained and selective reading of this Court’s preliminary injunction order," Walker wrote. "His reading ... inexplicably ignored this Court’s unambiguous language."

COURT ORDER: Emergency motion for immediate relief

The judge further ordered the Florida secretary of state to electronically notify the supervisors of elections of the 32 covered counties by 5 p.m. on Monday that "compliance with this Court’s order on preliminary injunction is not optional."

Monday afternoon, Hogan called the emergency order frivolous.

"The injunction came after early voting was over, so I don’t know ... my lawyers are still scratching their head," Hogan told News4Jax. "The issue started is because they didn’t see any sample ballot in Spanish at early-voting sites. Well, an early voting site is a ballot-on-demand. So there is no sample. So we would have to place to 271 samples on the wall that would be in English and 271 that would be in Spanish, so that’s not what the statutes say."

Hogan's office released a detailed statement, claiming the court did not give the office an opportunity to respond to the allegations before the order was issued and that "significant efforts" have been made to provide Spanish voters with a Spanish-language sample ballot.

"In any venue, location, or direct mail piece where an English sample ballot is available, a Spanish sample ballot available as well," the statement said.

To read the full statement, click here.

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