Texas Voter Purge Leads Latina Secretary of State to Resign

By Tony Castro, Voxxi

A scandal over a so-called voter purge leading up to the presidential election has led to the resignation of Texas Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade, the first Latina to hold that position.

Andrade, a Republican, resigned her $125,880 a year job in the wake of overseeing the removal of dead voters from the rolls – which turned into a controversy because many of the voters targeted as dead were very much alive.

As Secretary of State, a position to which she was named in 2008 by Gov. Rick Perry, Andrade served as Texas’ chief elections officer.

San Antonio attorney Roy Barrera Sr., who was the first Latino to be secretary of state in 1968-69, said Andrade had been a victim of an over-zealousness in many states to purge voter rolls.

“In some efforts it was legitimate, in others it was just an effort to hold down the vote, in my opinion, of minorities,” Barrera said. “I don’t think she took any role in that effort, but yes, she did send letters to many, many people over the state inquiring about their qualifications.”

Andrade’s attempt to purge voter rolls was halted by a state judge after notices were sent to thousands of “living” voters who were told that their names were about to be removed from the rolls unless they took action.

A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said Andrade “felt that the time was right after a successful election to move forward and give someone else an opportunity to serve in this great office.”

Andrade defends her actions in Texas voter purge

Andrade’s office has steadfastly defended its actions in attempting to clean up voter lists.

But Andrew Wheat of Texans for Public Justice, a group that monitors money in politics, said Andrade may have been too aggressive in her actions.

“Maybe it’s time. We just felt like this so-called dead voter list of hers went way, way too far,” Wheat said. “She sent garbage data to local election officials around the state…

“That’s a sad record for our first Latina secretary of state.”

Andrade, 63, had previously served on the Texas Transportation Commission.

“It has been the highest honor of my professional life to serve as the secretary of state for the greatest state in our nation,” Andrade said in a statement announcing her resignation.

The governor has named a San Antonio attorney and businessman John Steen to succeed Andrade.

“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.

This article was first published in Voxxi.

Los Angeles-based writer Tony Castro is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America” and the best-selling “Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son.”

[Photo courtesy Office of the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry]

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