In a unanimous vote, the Texas Senate confirmed former state senator Jane Nelson as the new Texas secretary of state on March 15.
Nelson succeeds John Scott, a lawyer who was the state’s top election official for a little over a year. Scott resigned on December 31 to return to his private law practice.
As the 115th Secretary of State of Texas, Nelson oversees elections, maintains voter rolls and enforces campaign finance laws. On March 10, Nelson’s office announced that he would develop a cross-checking program for interstate voter registration. Under state law, Texas must work with other state governments to identify voters whose addresses have changed and ensure that people are not registered to vote in more than one state.
Nelson will handle Texas international affairs and serve as a liaison between Texas and Mexico. His office also handles Texas business records, financial records, and more.
Nelson thanked his former Senate colleagues and Governor Greg Abbott for their support in a March 15 statement.
“I will work to safeguard fair and accurate elections in all 254 counties of our great state while continuing to support business leaders by ensuring government moves at the speed of Texas business, not the other way around,” Nelson said. “I look forward to strengthening relationships with all of our international partners and telling the world the great story of Texas’ economic prosperity.”
For 30 years, Nelson represented Flower Mound as a state senator. As the longest-serving and highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate, she also led the Senate Finance Committee, which prepares the state budget.
In 2021, Nelson shared that he would not seek re-election in the Senate. She was replaced by Senator Tan Parker.
Abbott announced Nelson’s appointment in December and she took office the following month.
This is Abbott’s fourth appointment to the post since 2018. Under Texas law, a secretary of state appointed outside of a regular legislative session must be confirmed by the Senate during the next session. The Texas Legislature meets during odd-numbered years from January to May.
Since Scott resigned before the current legislative session, he did not go through the confirmation process. But neither of Abbott’s two previous picks for the role, David Whitley and Ruth Hughs, received the two-thirds vote in the Texas Senate, which is required for confirmation.
Nelson’s time as a senator gave her an edge in the confirmation process, despite having no direct experience with election legislation. Previously, she led the Senate health care committee and passed bills on topics such as foster care, mental health, property taxes, and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.