Hood County Elections Administrator Michele Carew submitted a letter of resignation Friday morning. Her last day on the job will be Nov. 12.
The move came two months after County Clerk Katie Lang, Precinct 4 Commissioner Dave Eagle and a faction of local Republicans attempted to oust Carew during a meeting of the Hood County Election Commission that had been called by Lang.
It also came one week after the Texas Tribune published a lengthy article about attacks against Hood County’s elections administrator.
Election workers across the country have come under fire in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
Criticism of Carew has included, among other things, her use of an electronic ballot numbering system approved by the Secretary of State’s office.
Eagle responded by email to a voicemail left on his cell phone by the HCN seeking comment about Carew's resignation.
His email stated, "I wish her well in her new endeavor to 'transition into the private sector.' I am confident she will be well-received where ever she is going."
Lang also responded to the newspaper by email, stating that she “would like to wish Michele Carew the best in her future endeavors.”
Carew, head of the Texas Association of Elections Administrators, has been on the job for about one year, arriving shortly before the November 2020 presidential election. She replaced Crickett Miller, who also was targeted for criticism by Eagle. Miller now heads up elections in Parker County.
The Secretary of State’s office gave Carew and her office a favorable review for their handling of the 2020 General Election, and Carew received a certificate from The National Association of Election Officials saluting her for having “ascended above innumerable challenges” during that election.
At the July Hood County Election Commission meeting, Republican Party Chair David Fischer made a motion to fire Carew, and Lang seconded it. However, the other three members of the panel – County Judge Ron Massingill, Tax Assessor-Collector Andrea Ferguson, and Democratic Party Chair Adrienne Martin – voted against that action.
Lang then made a motion to suspend Carew for two weeks without pay, prompting one member of the audience of about 75 to respond, “What for?” Her motion failed for lack of a second.
Carew emailed a copy of her resignation letter to the HCN Friday morning.
She told the newspaper that she has accepted a job in the private sector and will never work as an elections administrator again.
Carew’s resignation letter gave no hint of her ordeal in Hood County.
“In my short time here, I have experienced professional growth, worked through challenges and made life-long friends,” her letter stated. “Getting to know the hard-working and dedicated election clerks, serving our citizens and standing up for what is right has been my greatest reward.”
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The Election Commission has the authority to hire, fire and discipline elections administrators, but eliminating the elections administration office would be a decision of the Commissioners Court.
If the office is eliminated, elections would fall under Lang’s control.
Non-partisan election administrator positions were created by the Legislature. Historically, county clerks have supervised elections and tax assessor-collectors have handled voter registration duties. Both are elected, partisan positions.
In Hood County, every elected position is held by a Republican.
Massingill, who heads the Commissioners Court, said Friday afternoon that he will not support any attempt to eliminate the elections office.
“We need an elections administrator,” he said.
The judge said that the job opening will be posted, and that Carew has offered to assist in finding her replacement. However, he fears that the search may prove difficult “in light of the publicity” the county has received for its treatment of elections administrators.
Massingill praised Carew for her knowledge of election laws and the competent way she ran elections while in Hood County. He noted that the votes for Donald Trump in last November’s election were in line with the number of Republican registered voters in Hood County.
“I just hate it,” he said of Carew’s resignation, “but we’ve just got to move on.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ron Cotton said he feels that Carew was forced out.
“I think there was a lot of pressure on her,” he said.
Cotton said Carew told him that the attacks had put “a lot of strain” on her.
On Friday afternoon, hours after she hand-delivered a copy of her resignation letter to Lang, Carew told the HCN, “I feel like, in the end, I’m the one who’s winning. I’m leaving of my own accord, and I wish the best for Hood County.”