Houston Seeks Federal Help to Protect Voters From Intimidation

(Bloomberg) -- Houston’s top political leaders called on the Justice Department to deploy monitors during next month’s election in the fourth-largest US city after Republican state officials pledged to post inspectors at polling places.

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The Texas secretary of state’s office and state Attorney General Ken Paxton announced plans earlier this week to send inspectors to Harris County’s central vote-counting office, conduct random checks of election materials and investigate complaints by poll watchers or voters.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a letter to the Justice Department late Thursday that the plan “appears designed to chill voters’ trust in the election process” and “disrupt and intimidate local election workers.” The request also was signed by Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee.

In Texas, all three branches of state government are controlled by the GOP, while Houston and all the other major metropolitan areas are solidly Democratic. Hidalgo, who leads the third-largest county in the US, also is a Democrat.

“This is an election with massive national, state and local consequences,” they wrote. “In addition to electing congresspersons, voters will be electing a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, county judge (the Harris County executive), two Harris County commissioners and many other state and local officials.”

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