The ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief in a case that highlights the importance of multilingual ballots in communities with significant non-English-speaking populations and the importance of consistency between sample ballots and actual ballots to avoid voter confusion. In this expedited appeal by a voter from Dover Township in Morris County, the court considered a challenge to the county’s decision to print sample ballots in English and Spanish, but print official ballots in English only.
Just before the primary election, the Morris County Clerk distributed sample ballots; those sample ballots were printed in both English and Spanish. Just days before the election, Edward Correa, a Dover resident, challenged the Clerk’s plan to print the official ballot in English only. The State Democratic Committee intervened. The trial court determined that changing the ballot so close to the election would cause great hardship and confusion and denied Correa and the Committee relief.
We argued that cannons of statutory interpretation lead to only one result: both sample ballots and official ballots must be bilingual. Additionally, we pointed out that the trial court’s interpretation disenfranchises Spanish-speaking voters and undermines the Legislature’s desire to accommodate them.
On April 8, 2019, the Appellate Division agreed with our position in a published opinion.