3 Election Officials Resigned in a Texas County


The recent resignations of all three election officials in a Texas county — at least one of whom cited repeated death threats and stalking — has created turmoil in an area that President Donald J. Trump won by 59 percentage points in 2020.

The exodus left Gillespie County, which has 27,000 residents and is about 75 miles west of Austin, without an election staff just over two months before early voting begins for the Nov. 8 midterm election, though the state planned to provide support to the county.

The resignations of the county’s elections administrator, Anissa Herrera, and the office’s remaining two employees were confirmed to The New York Times on Thursday by Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state. He said the county did not provide specific details about the nature of the threats.

“Threats on election officials are reprehensible, and we encourage any and all election officials who are targeted by such threats to report them to law enforcement immediately,” Mr. Taylor said in an email, adding that “unfortunately, threats like these drive away the very officials our state needs now more than ever to help instill confidence in our election system.”

The resignations were reported earlier by The Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, which Ms. Herrera told, “The year 2020 was when I got the death threats.”

“I’ve been stalked, I’ve been called out on social media,” she said to The Standard-Radio Post. “And it’s just dangerous misinformation.”

Ms. Herrera did not elaborate to the news organization on the nature of the grievances that led to the threats against her and the other two employees who resigned. She did not immediately respond on Thursday to a message left at a phone number listed for her.

It was not clear whether Ms. Herrera had filed any complaints with the Gillespie County sheriff’s office or the Fredericksburg Police Department, neither of which immediately responded to requests for comment on Thursday.

Nationwide, election offices have struggled with retention amid increased intimidation of election officials. This week, the Justice Department announced charges against a Missouri man who it said threatened an election official in Arizona.

In Texas, the secretary of state will send training specialists to Gillespie County to help employees from the offices of its clerk and tax assessor-collector prepare for the November election, Mr. Taylor said. Some of those employees have experience working on elections from before the county created the elections administrator post in 2019, he said, noting that the state would not lend staff to the county.

Mark Stroeher, the Gillespie County judge, had requested help last week from the secretary of state after the resignations, according to Mr. Taylor.

Judge Stroeher did not immediately respond on Thursday to a message seeking comment, but in an interview with The Standard-Radio Post, he lamented the political climate.

“We have some people who are pretty fanatical and radical about things,” he said. He added: “I don’t know how we’re going to hold an election when everybody in the election department has resigned. Elections are getting so nasty, and it’s getting dangerous.”

On Tuesday, a Missouri man was charged with two counts of making a threat last year on the personal cellphone of an election official in the recorder’s office in Maricopa County, Ariz., the state’s most populous, after the county became a focus of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Stephen Richer, the county’s recorder, was the target of the threats, according to his office, which referred to a statement Mr. Richer posted Wednesday on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, I have PLENTY more to keep them busy,” Mr. Richer wrote of the F.B.I., adding that other election employees in Maricopa County who did not hold office had received threats.

The man who the authorities said made the threat, Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh, Mo., could face up to seven years in prison if convicted. His case is the sixth made public by a Justice Department task force that was created last year to focus on the intimidation of election officials.

Joseph S. Passanise, a lawyer for Mr. Hoornstra, said in an email on Thursday that his client, a disabled combat veteran, pleaded not guilty during an appearance earlier in the day in federal court in Springfield, Mo.

“He is truly embarrassed and humbled by the attention this has brought him and his family,” Mr. Passanise said. “The sheer awesome power of the federal government can be incredibly intimidating to any citizen once charged.”

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