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Texas' top election official resigns after midterms

FILE - Texas Secretary of State John B. Scott talks about the upcoming election on Feb. 10, 2022, in Austin, Texas. Scott, who is the lead official in charge of elections, resigned Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, after a year in office, according to a statement from his office. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' top elections official resigned Monday after an intense year of trying to reassure election skeptics, navigating the rocky launch of new voting laws that resulted in thousands of discarded mail ballots and overseeing a limited audit of the 2020 election.

Secretary of State John Scott, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, came under immediate scrutiny from the moment he took the job in October 2021. He was briefly part of former President Donald Trump's legal team that challenged the results of the 2020 election but said upon taking the job in Texas that he did not dispute that President Joe Biden was the winner.

Right away, Scott was tasked with trying to give Texas voters confidence about election results and the ability to cast a ballot after Republicans passed a sweeping new voting law just weeks before his appointment. But those efforts got off to a bumpy start during Texas' first-in-the-nation primary as voters struggled to navigate new mail voting requirements, resulting in counties throwing out nearly 23,000 mail ballots.

In the November elections, the rate of rejected ballots had returned to more normal levels, and Scott's office said there were no major issues surrounding the election.

“By listening directly to the concerns of local election officials, voters, and grassroots activists from across the political spectrum, I was able to understand how to better educate Texas voters about their most sacred civic duty,” Scott said in his resignation letter.

Scott said he will return to private legal practice. His successor will be chosen by Abbott, who was reelected to a third term in November.

In September, ahead of this year’s midterm election, Scott told The Associated Press that his office regularly received threats, had heard from many Texans concerned about election integrity and was in contact with local election officials receiving similar messages.

Scott's role also touched on border security this year as his office aided in the governor's negotiations with neighboring Mexican states as part of Abbott's efforts to curb immigration. This came after Abbott issued a directive earlier this year to inspect all commercial vehicles crossing through multiple checkpoints across the border, causing extended delays and the shutdown of some of the world's busiest trade bridges.