The Texas Secretary of State's office has launched an audit of 2020 election results in four of Texas’ largest counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin.
In a statement released Sept. 23, the office said it anticipates the state Legislature will fund the process.
“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,” the statement said.
The announcement did not include a reason for the audit. However, hours before it was posted to the secretary of state’s website, a public letter to Gov. Greg Abbott from former President Donald Trump alleged voter fraud in some Texas counties.
In it, Trump said time is “running out” for an official investigation into the 2020 election results and demanded Abbott conduct a comprehensive forensic audit. There has been no evidence of voter fraud in the state election. Texas’ 38 electoral college votes went to Trump, who won the state by 52.6%, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for communications, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Texas' 2020 election was "above reproach," Grace Chimene, president of League of Women Voters of Texas, said in a Sept. 24 statement. She pointed to a recent testimony by the Secretary of State's office in which it said the the process was "smooth and secure."
"These reviews are a waste of state resources and taxpayer money. They undermine the hard work of county election officials and workers. They are aimed at ripping our election process apart and undermining our democratic foundation," Chimene said, noting that similar exercises in several other states have uncovered no evidence of voter fraud.
Bruce Sherbet, elections administrator for Collin County, said his office plans to cooperate with the audit. He said he has full confidence in the county’s security measures and the veracity of the results.
“We certainly will help in any way that we are requested to help, but I have no concerns that there is anything an audit would reveal that would be problematic,” he said.
More than 250,000 Collin County residents cast ballots for Trump in November, outpacing President Joe Biden by 21,373 votes, according to data from the elections office.
A Sept. 23 statement issued by Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria said the announcement from the Secretary of State’s office represents the latest attempt to delegitimize the 2020 election and an “attack by officials” on the communities’ trust.
“Our office has been focused on running fair elections with innovative, equitable approaches during an unprecedented pandemic,” she said in the statement. “Approaches we know support voters of color, women, families and other residents who are typically left behind.”
During a Sept. 24 news conference, county Judge Lina Hidalgo said Harris County ran "one of the most accessible and secure elections in modern history."
"Texans are smarter than this," she said during the conference. "Playing politics with the integrity of elections threatens our democracy. Every time you cry wolf, every time you yell fraud, every time you run a phony audit, you are tearing down our democracy brick by brick, and I'm speaking to every person who is playing a part in this."
Residents of Harris County elected Biden with 55.96% of the vote, according to election results.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins accused Abbott of taking orders from Trump in a statement issued Sept. 24.
"Governor Abbott is wasting taxpayer funds to trample on Texans’ freedom to vote" he said. "... As the former Republican Secretary of State noted: Texas had a clean and fair election."
Biden won Dallas County with 64.89% of the vote. In Tarrant County, Biden narrowly outpaced Trump with 49.31% of the vote. Officials from Tarrant County were not immediately available to comment.