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Case Name Williams v. DeSantis VR-FL-0173
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00067-RH-GRJ ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Case Summary
COVID-19 summary: This case sought emergency voting measures related to COVID-19 for the Florida presidential primary on March 17, 2020. These were denied, but a motion for measures relating to future elections remains pending.
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COVID-19 summary: This case sought emergency voting measures related to COVID-19 for the Florida presidential primary on March 17, 2020. These were denied, but a motion for measures relating to future elections remains pending.
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The Florida presidential primary occurred on March 17, 2020. At that time, Florida had reported 149 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the State of Florida had taken numerous restrictions in response to COVID-19. Universities sent students home, Supervisors of Elections closed or moved numerous polling stations, and numerous individuals were in quarantine. Concerned about the potential large-scale voter disenfranchisement due to COVID-19 restrictions, on March 16, 2020, Dream Defenders, the New Florida Majority Education Fund, Organize Florida, and several individuals prevented from voting due to COVID-19 restrictions, filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Florida in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The plaintiffs sought emergency injunctive and declaratory relief that would order the state to implement additional voting measures and enjoin it from enforcing the existing voting deadlines. They alleged that the State of Florida “failed to take reasonable emergency measures” for voter participation, such as extending deadlines for absentee ballots and expanding vote-by-mail options. Represented by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, DEMOS, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the plaintiffs brought this lawsuit under § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, they alleged that the defendants deprived the plaintiffs of their opportunity to vote in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment and failed to provide reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Immediately, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. They asked the court to order the state to expand access to vote-by-mail options, extend deadlines, permit curbside voting, and communicate these changes to Floridians.

The defendants did not respond to the emergency motion; however, noting that the temporary restraining order had been filed at 11:16 pm on the eve of the primary, Judge Robert Hinkle denied the motion on March 17, 2020, stating that granting the order would be “adverse to the public interest.”

The plaintiffs renewed their request later that day, discarding the request for curbside voting, but continuing to request extended access to vote-by-mail and absentee options. On March 18, 2020 Judge Hinkle denied this motion with respect to the March 17 primary. He noted it “would be adverse to the public interest to enter a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction blocking the Secretary of State and Supervisors of Elections from processing the results of the March 17 presidential primary in accordance with the governing Florida statutes.”

The motion for a preliminary injunction with respect to future elections remained pending. On March 18, 2020, the Court set the schedule for briefing on the remaining part of the preliminary-injunction motion: the defendants response is due on April 20, 2020, the discovery deadline is June 5, 2020, and a consolidated hearing on the preliminary injunction will occur during the two weeks after July 20, 2020.

On April 13, 2020, the parties conducted a disclosure hearing. The case is ongoing.

Elizabeth Helpling - 03/18/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Voting access
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Election administration
Vote dilution
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Ron Desantis, Governor of the State of Florida
Plaintiff Description Coalition of plaintiffs unable to vote in Florida's Presidential Primary due to COVID-19 restrictions and organizations advocating racial justice and voting rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 03/16/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Williams v. DeSantis
Demos
Date: Apr. 14, 2020
By: Demos
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00067-RH-GRJ (N.D. Fla.)
VR-FL-0173-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Emergency Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-FL-0173-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/16/2020
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 4 & (4-1 through 4-7)]
VR-FL-0173-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 12] (N.D. Fla.)
VR-FL-0173-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 16]
VR-FL-0173-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying the Renewed Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, Denying in Part the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, and Setting a Schedule [ECF# 18] (N.D. Fla.)
VR-FL-0173-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hinkle, Robert Lewis Court not on record show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0003 | VR-FL-0173-0005 | VR-FL-0173-9000
Jones, Gary R. (N.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bains, Chiraag (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Browne, Judith A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Chin, Jackson (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Daniels, Gilda R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Fajana, Francisca (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004 | VR-FL-0173-9000
Galindo, Mirando (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Gordon-Marvin, Emerson (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Naifeh, Stuart (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Romero-Craft, Kira (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004 | VR-FL-0173-9000
Sadasivan, Kathryn C. (New York) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004 | VR-FL-0173-9000
Scott, Sharion (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Unger, Jess (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-0001 | VR-FL-0173-0002 | VR-FL-0173-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Ashley E. (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000
McVay, Bradley Robert (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000
Meros, George N Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000
Price, Tara R. (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000
Primrose, Nicholas Allen (Florida) show/hide docs
VR-FL-0173-9000

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