May 28 (UPI) — Texas Secretary of State David Whitley abruptly resigned Monday amid criticism for challenging the citizenship status of thousands of voters in the state.
Whitley turned in his resignation letter on the last day of the legislative session.
“Working alongside the employees in the secretary of state’s office, county election officials and representatives of our #1 trading partner, Mexico, has been my distinct honor and privilege,” Whitley said in the letter to Gov. Greg Abbott. “And to have your trust in doing so goes beyond what I ever dreamed of as a kid growing up in a small South Texas community.”
Whitley was appointed to the position in December. Now, Abbott will assign a replacement, though they won’t be confirmed until the legislature meets again.
Whitley drew criticism for claims that nearly 100,000 non-citizens had registered to vote, and ordering the names be reviewed and purged from voter rolls. It’s an issue also popular with President Donald Trump, who’s taken a stand against what he’s called “rampant” voter fraud in the United States.
Texas ended Whitley’s voter purge last month as part of a settlement with civil rights groups. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ruled in February there hadn’t been widespread voter fraud, and called Whitley’s purge a “mess.”