From Texas Public Radio:
On Thursday night, the Texas Secretary of State’s office announced it would audit four counties in Texas from the November 2020 elections. The announcement came hours after former President Donald Trump sent a letter demanding Gov. Greg Abbott support a bill that would audit the state’s election results. This is despite Trump winning in Texas 52% to Joe Biden’s 46%.
That’s not a Texas-sized margin of victory, but it was good enough to claim the state’s beefy 38 electoral votes.
But now almost 11 months later Trump is insisting on a forensic audit of the Texas election results. On Thursday, the former president issued an open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott demanding his support for a bill that would authorize an Arizona-style investigation of the Texas results.
In the letter, Trump repeated his false claims of widespread voter fraud and irregularities.
There is no evidence to support these wild claims and Keith Ingram, head of elections for the Texas secretary of state’s office, testified to the Texas House Elections Committee that the November election was “safe and secure.”
“I am happy to report that Texas elections are in good shape. Because of the hard work of county election workers across the state the elections in Texas last year were a success,” Ingram told the committee.
The Texas Attorney General’s office also has been scouring Texas in a hunt for widespread voter fraud and hasn’t found it. Even Lt Gov.Dan Patrick issued a $1 million bounty for voter fraud. Patrick said the money would be available to “anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and final conviction of voter fraud.” He has never paid a dollar.
Nevertheless Trump is claiming in the letter to Abbott that there are big questions about the November 2020 election.
Using his own special grammar Trump wrote to Abbott: “Texas needs you to act now. Your Third Special Session is the perfect, and maybe last, opportunity to pass this audit bill.”
He added, “Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties. Let’s get to the bottom of the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!”
This isn’t the first time that Texas has faced the question of auditing the 2020 election. At the end of the last special legislative session the Texas senate took up Senate Bill 97 authored by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Houston Republican.
“This bill, I believe will provide the necessary clarity and transparency into the process so that people can ask a question through a civil remedy and get an answer and then leave it up to the discretion of the secretary of state in order to order an audit itself,” Bettencourt said on the senate floor.
During a warp speed debate where multiple Senate rules were suspended, Democratic Senator Chuy Hinojosa said this audit bill will only do harm to the public’s faith in elections and only please a small group who think the elections are rigged.
“I’m just somewhat amazed at the lengths that some people will go to continue to clog up the system and create doubt in our elections because someone has concerns. We can not be changing the law every time someone or some person thinks and doesn’t feel confident,” Hinojosa said.
Texas Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, a Travis County Democrat, explained that there are already election audits in Texas and that this bill is entirely unnecessary.
“What you propose is a sore winner provision in which we are in continuous and unwarranted investigation at taxpayer expense to keep the big lie alive for individuals who simply will never be satisfied.
The senate passed SB 97 17 to 14. Time ran out on the second special legislative session before the House could take it up. But the bill is back for the third special session as HB16 authored by Rep. Steve Toth, a Republican from The Woodlands. And it has the support of Trump.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said because Trump has shown his hand there is no way to pretend that the Texas audit is anything but in service of his “Big Lie.” And the danger is that the Big Lie has currency within the Republican Party.
“That is now Republican dogma. A good 75% of Republicans believe or say they believe two pollsters that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election,” Jillson said.
Jillson said the effect that this has is eroding faith in the Democratic system.
“It’s not costless to us as a people in Texas, because it draws our elections into doubt. Whereas there is no legitimate reason to doubt the quality or the consistency and the veracity of our electoral processes in Texas,” he said.
Abbott has not reacted publicly to Trump’s demand to add HB16 to the call.