Texas secretary of state who led failed voter purge effort steps down

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Texas Secretary of State David Whitley resigned Monday after failing to gain enough support in the state legislature to remain in the role. Whitley is responsible for leading a failed effort to purge thousands of voters from Texas rolls earlier in the year. Critics claimed the move was meant to scare voters regarding a false narrative of voter fraud.

The resignation of Whitley was approved by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Whitley is a Republican who was appointed by Abbott in December of last year. Whitley stepped down after not getting the twenty-one state Senate votes he needed to remain at his position. This is according to the Austin American-Statesman, who first reported Whitley’s resignation. CNN has reached out to the offices of Abbott and Whitley for comments on the issue.

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Whitley was supported by the nineteen Republican state senators. Democratic law makers opposed the confirmation of Whitley after he engaged in a questionable initiative in January to purge people suspected of not being citizens of the United States from the voter rolls in Texas, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

The biography of Whitley was removed from the Texas Secretary of State’s website. Currently, the page says vacant.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Whitley did not talk about the citizenship initiative or the lawsuit in his letter of resignation. The letter was reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman.

In the resignation letter, Whitley thanked Abbott for the opportunity to serve his state. Whitley failed to mention anything regarding the controversial voter issue.

Whitley thanked Abbott for having trust in him and stated that Abbott’s trust meant more to him than anything he dreamed of as a child growing up in a small South Texas environment.

Texas came to a settlement regarding the lawsuit in April. The lawsuit settlement stated that the voter initiative must end. The League of United Latin American Citizens, a well known and popular Latino civil rights group, provided the basis for the lawsuit by claiming that the initiative intimidated voters based on a narrative of voter fraud that simply was not true.

The lawsuit was filed against Whitley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. It was a reaction to statements from Whitley and Paxton claiming Whitley’s office had uncovered nearly 100,000 possible illegal aliens in the United states that were registered to participate in Texas and national elections. Of these, around sixty percent of them had voted in a minimum of one Texas election.

Whitley made it known he planned to look into the matter and refer people who were not registered properly to country registrars for further action. A federal judge in Texas put a temporary block on this move in February and said there was a lack of evidence concerning significant voter fraud.

Judge Fred Biery called the attempt a mess and stated that it was created by Whitley himself.

In the settlement, Texas agreed to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of $450,000 for legal fees and other costs incurred. This is according to the settlement document.

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