Poll worker accused of hurling 'blackface' slur during altercation with voter

HOUSTON – A poll worker was issued a citation for assault by contact Tuesday after an altercation with a voter at a northwest Houston polling place.

Rolanda Anthony said the first stop of her Election Day was at Liberation Baptist Church, the polling place for Harris County Voting Precinct 1012. She said that when she tried to cast her ballot, a poll worker, identified by authorities as Juanita Barnes, became aggressive and questioned her home address.

"She was very belligerent and disrespectful," Anthony said.

Anthony said that when she asked Barnes a question, her response became racially charged.

"'Perhaps if I put on my blackface makeup today you would be able to comprehend what I’m saying,'" Anthony said, recounting what she said Barnes shouted. 

"I was just in dismay," Anthony continued. "I could not believe this was happening to me."

Anthony said that another poll worker tried to intervene, but Barnes wouldn’t back down.

"She came in my face a second time, yelling and screaming and ranting," Anthony said.

Prestina Ford Stuckey, the election clerk for the precinct, said she tried to help.

"She continued to put her finger in her face," Stuckey said. "She wouldn’t back off."

The incident was reported to the Election Board and deputies were called to the church.

"When we responded, we interviewed both sides and a citation was issued to the voting poll worker," a deputy at the scene said.

A representative of the county’s election office said the behavior of which Barnes is accused is unacceptable and the worker was sent home.

Anthony said she was eventually able to cast her ballot.

"People, anybody should not be treated like this," Anthony said. "No one."

Deputies said the charge Barnes faces is a Class C misdemeanor and she will be required to appear in court.

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