AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Secretary of State Hope Andrade announced Tuesday she is stepping down after four years as the chief elections officer in Texas and the first Hispanic woman to hold the office.
Andrade was the fourth-longest serving secretary of state in Texas history. In her resignation letter to Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed he in 2008, she said the “time has come for me to step down” but did not elaborate.
Rich Parsons, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, reiterated that Andrade felt it was time to leave but would not comment further.
“As the first Latina secretary of state, Hope has a permanent place in our state’s history books and her personal commitment to making Texas a place of unlimited opportunity will leave a lasting impression on our state’s future,” Perry said in a statement.
Andrade’s last day is Friday.
Her final weeks in office were not uneventful. The run-up to Election Day found Andrade’s office at the center of controversies surrounding the purging of nearly 70,000 presumably dead people from voter rolls and an international group of voting monitors who Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott threatened to arrest.
The first dust-up began in September, when dozens of Texas residents received letters from local elections officials instructing them to basically prove they’re alive in order to remain registered voters. Their names had been wrongly flagged based on a Social Security Administration master death index, which is known to have errors.
That raised worries about disenfranchising voters, and when a handful of counties refused to continue purging names, Andrade’s office threatened to cut off state funding. Civil rights attorneys sued the state on behalf of four voters who received the “dead” letters, and Andrade’s office eventually agreed to drop the requirement that they prove they’re alive.
Andrade argued that her office was merely following a new voter integrity law passed by the Legislature last year.
A month later, the Texas secretary of state’s office was caught up in another dispute, albeit less directly this time. That one happened when Abbott questioned the intentions of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, which had sent voting monitors to Texas and other states.
Abbott said he was concerned because of the group’s interactions with opponents of voter ID laws like those Texas has tried implementing.
Even the U.S. State Department was dragged into the fray, and Andrade’s office sought reassurance from OSCE that the group would follow state elections laws that barred its monitors from coming within 100 feet of polling sites.
In her resignation letter, Andrade thanked Perry for the “history-making appointment” and said she spent her time in office committed to the state’s prosperity.
“I remain dedicated to doing all I can to make sure Texas is a place where we encourage innovation, cultivate entrepreneurial success and reward hard work,” Andrade said.
Andrade, who is from San Antonio, is a former Perry appointee to the Texas Transportation Commission.