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Under Donald Trump’s pressure, Texas announces election audit

The quick response by state officials in Texas, which Trump carried last year by more than 5 percentage points, was the latest example of the former president’s enduring influence over the Republican Party, particularly when it comes to his efforts to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of his loss last year to President Joe Biden.

September 24, 2021 / 05:06 PM IST
Former US President Donald Trump

Former US President Donald Trump

Eight and a half hours after former US President Donald Trump made a public demand for Governor Greg Abbott of Texas to back legislation to create a “forensic audit of the 2020 election”, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced a “comprehensive forensic audit” of the results from four of the state’s largest counties.

The quick response by state officials in Texas, which Trump carried last year by more than 5 percentage points, was the latest example of the former president’s enduring influence over the Republican Party, particularly when it comes to his efforts to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of his loss last year to President Joe Biden.

“Governor Abbott, we need a ‘Forensic Audit of the 2020 Election,’” Trump said in a midday open letter to Abbott. “Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties.”

Texas is currently without a secretary of state, after the May retirement of Ruth Ruggero Hughs. Abbott, a Republican, has yet to appoint a successor.

Nevertheless, the office released a two-sentence statement late Thursday saying it would examine ballots from the 2020 election in Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties. The news release called those counties the “two largest Democrat counties and two largest Republican counties” in the state, but of the four, only Collin County backed Trump against Biden in the 2020 election. The statement said the audit process had already begun.

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Since Arizona Republicans began a review of more than 2 million ballots in Maricopa County, Trump-aligned Republicans across the country have sought to replicate the effort. In Wisconsin, a former state Supreme Court justice is investigating the election results and said Monday that an audit of ballots is possible. Pennsylvania Republicans last week sought driver’s license data and Social Security numbers for every voter in the state as part of an inquiry into the 2020 election there.

The various reviews have not uncovered any significant evidence of fraud or impropriety in the vote counting. But they have created a new kind of security risk as third parties gain access to voting equipment and raised questions about the use of public resources to investigate Republican conspiracy theories.

To date, there have been no serious allegations that the Texas election was flawed.

Texas Democrats called the audit the latest attempt by Abbott and the state’s Republicans to cater to Trump.

“This is all an organized effort to overturn the will of the people in an effort to fuel the ‘Big Lie’ and stroke Trump’s ego,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party.

(Author: Reid J Epstein)/(c.2021 The New York Times Company)
New York Times
first published: Sep 24, 2021 05:06 pm

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