Officials in the Texas secretary of state’s office have launched a “full and comprehensive forensic audit” of 2020 general election results in four of the state’s largest counties: Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin.
The agency announced the audit late Thursday, hours after former President Donald Trump asked Gov. Greg Abbott to add an election audit bill to the agenda for the current special legislative session.
A statement from the agency did not explain what prompted the need for an audit. State elections officials told lawmakers earlier this year that the 2020 election was “smooth and secure” and data shows that voter fraud is rare in the state.
In his public letter to Abbott, Trump repeated the same inaccurate claims about the 2020 general election results that he has advanced since he lost his reelection bid. He continues to falsely claim that the election was stolen from him, despite an investigation by his own Department of Justice that determined that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud during the election.
Abbott has not responded publicly to Trump’s letter and his office has declined to offer a comment to the American-Statesman.
As a result, Trump has pushed for a “forensic audit” of the election results, similar to the partisan process taking place in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to verify the veracity of election results.
Trump narrowly lost Arizona, but won Texas by 5.6 percentage points. A draft report of the results of a of monthslong hand recount of Arizona’s Maricopa County’s 2020 vote released late Thursday confirmed that Biden won, according to the Arizona Republic.
In the statement announcing the Texas audit, the secretary of state’s office described the four counties as the two largest Democratic counties and the two largest Republican counties in the state.
President Joe Biden defeated Trump in Dallas and Harris counties and Trump secured more votes in Collin County, north of Dallas. In Tarrant County, a traditionally Republican area, Biden eked out a win over Trump with 49.31% of the vote to Trump’s 49.09%.
Isabel Longoria, the Harris County elections administrator, said in a statement that the audit represents “another attack by officials on our communities’ trust in elections.”
“Our office has been focused on running fair elections with innovative, equitable approaches during an unprecedented pandemic,” she said.
Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the agency, did not return an email seeking clarity on why the audit was launched, who will be conducting the audit or how much it will cost the state. The agency’s statement said they “anticipate the Legislature will provide funds for this purpose.”
Texas Secretary of State Ruth Ruggero Hughs resigned from her post in May and Abbott has yet to nominate a replacement.
“Under existing Texas laws, the Secretary of State has the authority to conduct a full and comprehensive forensic audit of any election and has already begun the process in Texas’ two largest Democrat counties and two largest Republican counties—Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Collin—for the 2020 election. We anticipate the Legislature will provide funds for this purpose.”
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