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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division
January 9, 2019, Submitted; April 8, 2019, Decided
DOCKET NO. A-4883-17T4
[**974] [*575] The opinion of the court was delivered by
In this opinion, we address the one novel issue placed before us. ] Where N.J.S.A. 19:23-22.4 requires that sample primary ballots be printed in Spanish as well as English, must the official primary [***2] ballots, including mail-in ballots, also be printed in Spanish and English? Reading N.J.S.A. 19:23-22.4 in pari materia with related sections of the election laws, and considering the Legislature's policy to avoid disenfranchising voters whose primary language is Spanish, we conclude that the answer to the question is yes. To avoid disrupting the electoral process, our decision is prospective only, and any future challenge based on this decision must be filed in sufficient time to permit effectuation of the relief sought without delaying the election.
Before continuing our discussion, we address the procedural posture of the case. A few days before the June 5, 2018 primary election, plaintiff Edward Correa filed an order to show cause challenging the machine and mail-in ballots in Dover, Morris County. At the time, Correa was a "declared candidate" for a seat on the district committee in Ward 3, District 1 in Dover. Because at least ten percent of the registered voters in Dover spoke [*576] Spanish as their primary language, N.J.S.A. 19:23-22.4 required that the sample ballots be printed in both English and Spanish. Relying on N.J.S.A. 19:23-31 and N.J.S.A. 19:63-7, Correa argued that the machine and mail-in ballots likewise should have been bilingual. The New [***3] Jersey Democratic State Committee intervened as a plaintiff in the action.1
The order to show cause, seeking injunctive relief, was heard on the Friday before the scheduled Tuesday election. After hearing arguments addressing both the legal issues and the practical impediments to granting plaintiffs the relief they sought, the trial court rejected plaintiffs' legal contentions and denied the application for an injunction. The trial court noted that the Legislature specifically added the bilingual-printing requirement only as to sample ballots and not as to official ballots, and reasoned that if the Legislature intended to change the language requirement for official ballots it would have specifically so provided.
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458 N.J. Super. 571 *; 206 A.3d 971 **; 2019 N.J. Super. LEXIS 49 ***; 2019 WL 1515038
EDWARD CORREA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, AND NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATIC STATE COMMITTEE, PLAINTIFF/INTERVE-NOR-APPELLANT, v. ANN GROSSI, JOHN WOJTAZEK AND TARA PETTONI, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
Subsequent History: [***1] Approved For Publication April 11, 2019.
Prior History: On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-1026-18.
sample ballot, election, voters, ballots, bilingual, printed, official ballot, primary ballot, election law, legislative intent, facsimile, mail-in, primary language, primary election, registered, ambiguity, presumed, booth, voted
Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Elections, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Legislation, Interpretation, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Particular Presumptions, Legislatures