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Sunnyside Activists Claim Election Judge Tried To Suppress Voter Outreach

Harris County officials say it was a misunderstanding

Cynthia Pharms said she has advocated for candidates outside the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center for 20 years, but this is the first time an election judge told her she couldn’t be there.

“She’s been telling us we cannot push right here on this sidewalk, which is city property,” Pharms said.

She called elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. Borris Miles.

Miles released a statement condemning the election judge, Bonnie Parker, and blaming a Republican effort to suppress Democratic votes in light of a record turnout in Harris County Democratic primary elections.

“We knew that in the midst of a national campaign to keep President Trump into office and his cohorts into office, we knew that the Voting Rights Act was under attack,” Miles’ spokesman, Justin Concepcion, said.

Assistant Harris County Attorney Douglas Ray visited Sunnyside Friday after receiving complaints.

“It was a misunderstanding with the judge that I don’t think has worked at this location before and didn’t understand how this traditionally was done,” he said.

The Harris County Clerk’s Office said technically, the 100-feet distance marker for those advocating for candidates and issues would have to be beyond the sidewalk, but they’re making an exception so people don’t have to stand on the street.

Sonya Aston, administrator of elections for Harris County, said after talking to Parker, the election judge, campaigners are now also allowed behind a marker on the parking lot of the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center.

“The campaign people have now a safer place to go, if they choose to, inside the fence that they didn’t have access to beforehand,” Aston said.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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