Texas poll official cited in alleged 'blackface' incident with voter
Published 10:10 PM EST Nov 6, 2018
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – An election official was charged after allegedly assaulting a voter at a local polling location after an argument apparently turned into a racial fight where blackface was brought up.
Rolanda Anthony said she went to vote Tuesday morning at a polling location near her home in northwest Houston. Once she was there, Anthony said there were questions over where she lives and the address on her identification.
The worker asked her to fill out a residency verification form, according to the Houston Chronicle, but Anthony questioned why when she says her addressed matched what was listed on her ID.
As she was explaining that to a worker, an assistant election judge walked over and started arguing with her. The Chronicle lists her name as Juanita Barnes.
Anthony, who is black, said Barnes, who is white, started yelling that she'd broken the law by not updating her address, according to the Chronicle. Then, Anthony says, the fight turned to race.
"When I questioned what was going on, she then said had I worn my blackface makeup today, 'Perhaps you could comprehend what I'm telling you,'" Anthony said.
Others tried to intervene since the quarrel happened in front of a crowd of voters, but Barnes persisted, according to the Chronicle. She continued yelling and when Anthony said she was going to call authorities, Barnes bumped into her and allegedly made a veiled threat.
"If you call the police, they're going to take you to jail and do something to you, because I'm white," Barnes said, according to Anthony.
Barnes was cited for public assault by contact, a Class C misdemeanor, authorities said.
"Voters and poll workers should feel safe from harm while participating in our democratic process," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted. "We will not tolerate any form of violence or intimidation at the polls."
Anthony said after the incident she cast her ballot, something she believes Barnes was attempting to stop, the Chronicle reported.
"I think her purpose was to prevent me from voting," Anthony said. "She did that purposely and intentionally to intimidate me but I will not be intimidated."