One month after former Secretary of State John Scott announced his resignation, Gov. Greg Abbott officially appointed former Sen. Jane Nelson to the position on Jan. 5.

As Texas’ 115th secretary of state, Nelson will be the state’s top election official. She will supervise elections, maintain voter records and enforce campaign finance laws. According to the secretary of state’s website, the office also handles the state’s international affairs and manages records about its corporations, financial filings and more.

Her predecessor, Scott, stepped down on Dec. 31, 2022. When announcing his resignation, Scott said he planned to return to his private legal practice in 2023.

On Dec. 19, Scott released the final report on an audit of the 2020 elections in Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties. The 360-page report includes general and county-specific information about processes such as voter registration, vote-counting, training and more.

Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound, spent 30 years as a state senator and was the chamber’s highest-ranking Republican. In 2021, she shared that she would not seek re-election to the Senate.

After accepting Scott’s resignation, Abbott announced on Dec. 6 that he would appoint Nelson as the next secretary of state. She will be formally sworn in by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht on Jan. 7, according to a news release.

“I am deeply honored to continue my career as a public servant as Texas Secretary of State, and am grateful for the confidence Governor Abbott has placed in me to serve in this critical new role,” Nelson said in the release. “As Secretary of State, I hope to continue safeguarding the integrity of our state's elections and enhance transparency so that all Texas voters can have confidence in fair, accurate elections across each of our 254 counties.”

Four secretaries in four years

Since 2018, Abbott has appointed four secretaries of state. Under Texas law, a secretary of state who is 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 through May.

Because Scott resigned before the Jan. 10 start of the 2023 legislative session, he did not undergo the confirmation process. But neither of Abbott’s previous two picks for the role—David Whitley and Ruth Hughs—received votes from two-thirds of the Senate, which is required for confirmation.

Nelson’s experience as a senator will likely give her an upper hand during the confirmation process. After Abbott’s announcement in December, Nelson was lauded by various state leaders and lawmakers on social media, including Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick and Tan Parker, an outgoing state representative who was elected to replace Nelson in the 12th Senate District.

More information about Nelson and her experience can be found on the secretary of state’s website.