Texas has finally announced it is conducting an audit of the 2020 general election in four counties.
In a brief statement on Thursday, the office of the state’s Republican attorney general, Kevin Paxton, said he has the authority to conduct “a full and comprehensive forensic audit of any election,” which he has begun in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin counties.
“We anticipate the Legislature will provide funds for this purpose,” his office said without explaining what prompted the audit.
President Joe Biden won the presidency over Trump by millions of votes to secure 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. However, Texas was carried by Trump.
Of the four counties under audit, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant voted for Biden with only Collin backing the now-former president, according to data presented by Politico.
The announcement from Paxton came hours after Liz Harrington, Trump’s spokesperson, published a letter from the former president calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to support a bill for the state to conduct an election audit.
“Gov. Abbott, we need a ‘Forensic Audit of the 2020 Election’ added to the call now,” Trump wrote. “We’re quickly running out of time and it must be done this week. Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties. Let’s get to the bottom of the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
Trump’s claims of election fraud have been repeatedly refuted and Republican challenges brought before the court have been repeatedly thrown out.
Isabel Longoria, the elections administrator for Harris County, called Paxton’s audit a move to degrade trust in democracy.
“We have seen countless attempts to delegitimize the 2020 election. Today’s actions represent another attack by officials on our communities’ trust in elections,” she said in a statement. “While other people continue the political posturing and petty fights of the past, we will continue preparing for this November’s elections.”
Meanwhile, sate Democrats chastised the move.
“Democracy isn’t a game,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted. “These fake audits are an affront to all voters, & pure pandering to the kinds of extremists that stormed our Capitol.”
State Rep. Chris Turner accused Abbott of capitulating to Trump.
“Let me be the first to congratulate the disgraced former president, Donald Trump, on his apparently becoming the new governor of Texas,” he said.
How does an audit work?
The secretary of state’s office has not provided many details on how the audit is being conducted.
House Bill 16, which has not been considered by the House, and a similar bill passed by the Senate propose allowing certain stakeholders to request “an explanation and supporting documentation” when they suspect a local election official had violated the law, or when they want more information about alleged irregularities in precinct-level election results.
If they weren’t satisfied, they could ask the Texas secretary of state to conduct an audit.
Abbott gave the secretary of state this responsibility when he signed Senate Bill 1, the Republican priority elections bill to further stiffen Texas voting rules into law earlier this month. The secretary of state must audit the elections held in four randomly selected counties after November elections in even-numbered years. Two of the counties must have a population of at least 300,000.
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