Energy has been high around elections for several years alongside escalating political polarization nationwide. Despite this, Gillespie County has been a mostly peaceful political climate.
But the 2020 presidential race brought election integrity to the forefront of many American minds. With passions ignited, the political climate around elections has been a blazing fire for some election officials.
Nobody knows this more than Anissa Herrera, elections administrator for Gillespie County since 2019. She is resigning from her position as administrator largely due to the heightened, and even dangerous circumstances surrounding the voting process.
“After the 2020 (election), I was threatened, I’ve been stalked, I’ve been called out on social media,” said Herrera. “And it’s just dangerous misinformation.”
Herrera is an inaugural member of the elections office for the county and has worked for Gillespie County for nine-and-a-half years. Prior to her role as elections administrator, she worked as the elections clerk under the county clerk’s office.
What had been an enjoyable job for Herrera took a different turn following the most recent presidential election.
“The year 2020 was when I got the death threats,” said Herrera. “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.”
Other resignations have occurred in the Elections Department for similar reasons. The dangers were dire enough that some members of the department hired off-duty law enforcement officers and security guards.
Herrera expressed that her responsibilities in the position often required long hours while being understaffed.
The wave of resignations in the Elections Department has left county officials wondering how to successfully conduct upcoming elections.
“We have some people who are pretty fanatical and radical about things,” said Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher. “Unfortunately, they have driven out our elections administrator, and not just her, but the staff. Everybody has resigned.”
Stroeher was sympathetic to Herrera’s frustrations in the position.
“The job had been made much more difficult than probably it should be because of some individuals who are continuing to question how they are doing things,” said Stroeher.
Herrera mentioned that, following the 2020 elections, Texas legislature had passed approximately 300 new laws regulating the voting process. This made her oversight overwhelming to manage. Herrera feels confident about the integrity of the county’s voting process.
“Texas is very safe and secure,” said Herrera.
With Herrera’s resignation and those of other members of the department, the voting process in Gillespie County is uncertain, and those who feared a fragile election system may have inspired real difficulties.
“It’s unfortunate because we have candidates that need to be elected, and we have voters who want their voices to be heard by the ballots,” said Stroeher. “I don’t know how we’re going to hold an election when everybody in the election department has resigned.”
Stroeher plans to contact the office of the Secretary of State for Texas for guidance on holding the upcoming November elections.
“Elections are getting so nasty and it’s getting dangerous,” said Stroeher.
Herrera’s last day as elections administrator will be Aug. 16. She is currently uncertain what her future holds.
“I’m understaffed and underpaid,” said Herrera, “and I’ve been asking for help for a while, and at some point, you just have to take care of yourself.”