The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slowly.
Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi declined to print bi-lingual ballots in Dover during the 2018 primary even though U.S. Census figures show a 69.4% Hispanic population – one of thirteen New Jersey municipalities with a Hispanic majority.
Grossi printed the sample ballots in English and Spanish, but not the vote-by-mail and machine ballots.
Edward Correa, who is now the Democratic municipal chairman, asked a judge to order the ballots reprinted. Judge Stuart Minkowitz denied the request on the Friday before the primary.
An appeal was filed in June 2018, and a panel of three appellate court judges – William Nugent, Susan Reisner and Hany Mawla – held a conference in January 2019 on the matter.
With eight days to go before primary election ballots are sent to the printer, the courts have still not ruled on the appeal, creating the possibility that Dover voters might again struggle in their effort to vote in the June primary election.
All three judges are tenured, and none come from Morris County.
Mawla is a rising star in the New Jersey judiciary and at age 46 has already made it to the appellate court after just nine years on the bench.
As the first Arab-American Muslim to serve on the Superior Court, Mawla is likely to be on short-lists for the New Jersey Supreme Court or for a federal judgeship in the future. Inaction on a case involving Hispanic voting rights could be addressed if he were to face Senate confirmation down the road.
Other counties with significant Hispanic population, including Hudson, Essex, Passaic and Union, already print bi-lingual ballots as needed.