FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (Nexstar) — Citing threats and even stalking, all three employees at the Gillespie County elections office have resigned from their positions, leaving the office empty with less than three months before the primary election in November.
The Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post first reported the wave of resignations last Wednesday, after staff say they received numerous threats and in some cases, even stalking. Now former Gillespie County Elections Administrator Anissa Herrera told the Standard that after the 2020 election she was threatened, stalked and called out on social media.
“The year 2020 was when I got the death threats,” Herrera told the Post. “It was enough that I reached out to our county attorney, and it was suggested that I forward it to FPD (Fredericksburg Police Department) and the sheriff’s office.”
In the two years following the former president’s claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, these experiences are not totally abnormal for state election workers, according to a Texas Secretary of State Office senior staffer familiar with the matter.
A Thursday report from the U.S. House Oversight Committee showed similar threats to Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia, who sent a letter to representatives about violent threats made to both himself and his children.
“In Texas, ‘personal attacks on national media outlets’ led to alarming threats against an election administrator, including a social media call to ‘hang him when convicted for fraud and let his lifeless body hang in public until maggots drip out of his mouth’ and messages threatening his children, stating, ‘I think we should end your bloodline,'” the report read.
Josh Blank, director of research at the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, says that with the threats election workers are facing — coupled with an already difficult job — it is more surprising that additional election workers have not yet resigned.
“You’re asking people to do more work under greater scrutiny, and now, threats of physical violence. So it’s not so surprising that this sort of, you know, election workers has decided to resign.” Blank said.
Gillespie County voter Victoria McClure says that she was both shocked and not shocked that resignations occurred.
“If they’ve been receiving death threats, then I would too, because we’ve gotten to a point where the threats are not benign,” McClure said. “[In] the last election I was going to be a poll person, and they were talking to us about what to do if someone comes in and is violent. That’s not what happens in a civilized society.”
Sam Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for communications, said the state is already working with Gillespie County officials to help them move forward and prepare for the upcoming election.
“We have already committed to sending trainers from our office to ensure that the County will have the tools and resources they need to conduct a successful election in November,” he said in an email statement.
Many of the threats stemmed from President Donald Trump’s assertion that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. No evidence was found to prove these claims to be true, as found by numerous judges, secretaries of state and elections officials. The allegations have been refuted even by top Republicans — as high-ranking as former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and most recently, former Vice President Mike Pence and his legal team.
Taylor said he cannot recall a time in recent memory when an entire election office resigned, especially this close to an election. He called the threats “reprehensible” and suggested election officials should report any such threats to law enforcement.
“The integrity of our elections rests on the hard work of dedicated individuals ensuring all proper election laws and procedures are followed in each of Texas’ 254 counties,” Taylor said. “Unfortunately, threats like these drive away the very officials our state needs now more than ever to help instill confidence in our election system.”
Nexstar reached out to the Fredericksburg Police Department and the Gillespie County Sherriff’s Department to see if any such reports had been made by the elections staff. The sheriff’s department told us no such reports were made since 2020.