Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez.jpg

Henderson County Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez resigned from the Smith County elections administrator role effective this Friday after she was hired three months ago. 

Smith County Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez resigned from her position on Monday afternoon after three months in the role.

In a letter to Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, Hernandez, who was hired at the end of January, said her resignation would be effective this Friday.

Hernandez said in the letter obtained by the Tyler Morning Telegraph that she didn’t want to cause the county any problems.

“It was such an honor for you to even give me an opportunity to serve you and the constituents of Smith County,” Hernandez said in the letter. “I am so sorry that I have disappointed you in my capacity and will not be able to show you what a great employee I can be. I hate to leave a job that I love but I do not want to cause Smith County any problems so with that being said I will leave my position.”

Smith County Public Information Officer Casey Murphy said in a statement Hernandez’s letter would be submitted to the Smith County Elections Commission, which is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The commission will conduct an executive session regarding the appointment and employment of the elections administrator and then consider action during the Thursday meeting.

The elections commission is tasked with the authority of hiring and firing a county elections administrator. The membership includes Moran, Tax Assessor-Collector Gary Barber, County Clerk Karen Phillips, Democratic Party Chair Michael Tolbert and Republican Party Chair David Stein.

Murphy said in the statement that Smith County does not comment on personnel matters.

Hernandez previously served as the Henderson County elections administrator since 2008 before being hired to lead the Smith County office on Jan. 26.

The vacancy in the role occurred when former Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson accepted the position of chief deputy elections administrator in December last year.

Hernandez was chosen after the commission interviewed two candidates and held several meetings, according to Smith County.

At the time of her hire, Moran said hiring Hernandez was a step forward in improving elections administration in Smith County, which has been a focus for the commissioners court.

He noted her statewide reputation for excellence and her 13 years of experience in elections administration “to strengthen the Smith County Elections Office, and to build an elections team that is second-to-none in the state.”

Hernandez began her work in Henderson County in 1999 as a property tax bookkeeper. She became the county’s first elections administrator in 2008. She said she was instrumental in the creation of the office.

She has been a certified elections registration administrator since 2019 and is a registered election official.

Her application for the Smith County role stated she wants to “strive for accountability in maintaining public confidence in honest and impartial elections, which will be conducted in a fair, efficient and accurate manner.”

Nelson accepted her chief deputy role on Dec. 8, 2020. She began volunteering for the Smith County Elections Office in 2001, and she started full time for the elections office in 2005. Nelson worked as the elections administrator since 2007.


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.