In the five days since the Texas secretary of state’s office announced it is auditing the 2020 general election in four counties, local officials indicated they were in the dark about what the reviews would entail.
Now, they’ve learned they cover some of the standard post-election procedures local officials are already required to undertake.
On Tuesday night, the state agency that oversees elections offered the first glimpse of what it has dubbed a “full forensic audit” of the election in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties, but it appears the scope of the effort may be more limited than what the term may suggest. The secretary of state’s documentation explaining the parameters of the reviews notes the first phase includes partial manual counts of ballots and security assessments, which all counties are already required to undergo.
The second phase, which is slated for “spring 2022,” will be an examination of election records “to ensure election administration procedures were properly followed.” That includes reviews of records of voting machine accuracy tests, rosters for early voting, forms detailing chain of custody for sealed ballot boxes and other election materials maintained by the counties.
But the secretary of state also indicates it will review records that counties already provide to the office, including the “reasonable impediment declarations” filled out by voters who indicate they lack one of the photo IDs the state requires voters to present to cast a ballot.
Officials in Harris County on Tuesday morning indicated they remained unaware of what the audits would cover despite comments by Abbott that the reviews “actually began months ago.” Now, it appears the governor was, at least in part, referring to processes counties are separately required by law to complete.
For example, the partial manual counts of ballots listed under the first phase of the reviews must be conducted within 72 hours of polls closing after every single election.
The reviews also provoked criticism that invoked the politically driven election review in Arizona that has been mired by ineptitude and described by the Arizona secretary of state as an exercise plagued by “problematic practices, changing policies, and security threats.” The report of the Arizona review, which confirmed President Joe Biden won the state, was compiled by Cyber Ninjas, a contractor that received $5.7 million from pro-Trump groups to fund the audit.
In releasing the details about the reviews, a spokesman for the secretary of state emphasized the office would not be “hiring or contracting with an outside firm to conduct these audits.”
See here and here for the background. I guess it’s good that we’re not throwing millions of dollars at a bunch of pro-Trump grifters who will come in and do a lot of damage, but the word for all this is still “pathetic”. If the purpose was to take these existing actions and package them as a true fraudit, so as to appease their god-king, it didn’t work.
Gov. Greg Abbott is failing to appease some inside his party — including former President Donald Trump — with the “forensic election audit” that the state announced Thursday.
Trump released a letter to Abbott on Thursday urging him to add audit legislation, which could allow a review of mail-in and in-person ballots across the state, to the agenda for the current special session agenda. Instead, the secretary of state’s office announced later that day that it was already starting to audit the 2020 election results in four of the state’s biggest counties.
In a new statement to The Texas Tribune on Wednesday, Trump said it is “a big mistake for Texas” not to pass the audit legislation, House Bill 16 by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands.
“By allowing the Democrats to do what they do, it will make it much harder for the Governor and other Republicans to win election in 2022 and into the future,” Trump said. “Texas is a much redder state than anyone knows, but this is the way to make sure it turns blue.”
Trump assumes, with quite a bit of justification, that he can get Abbott to roll over and supplicate himself further. There’s only one reasonable response to this.
A resolution from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo denouncing the election audits for 2020 election results in four large Texas counties passed Tuesday night 3 to 2, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.
Hidalgo has called the audit, which centers on Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties, a “sham” and a political maneuver to fuel conspiracy theorists who keep pushing the false narrative that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
Harris County Commissioner Tom Ramsey was one of the two Republicans who voted against the resolution Tuesday night, arguing “transparency is not a bad thing.”
A few days prior to the resolution, Hidalgo warned continuing the conversation around election results “lends some credence” to conspiracy theories that fraud exists.
“These are the kinds of folks that stormed the capital. They are not going to be persuaded that their conspiracy theories are false,” Hidalgo said in a Sunday Twitter video. “It can’t be that the strategy of one party is to burn it all to the ground when their candidate doesn’t win. That’s how you tear down a country, that’s how you tear down a democracy.”
Lina Hidalgo is a strong and competent leader. Greg Abbott is not. And Tom Ramsey is as much a disgrace as Abbott is. Draw him out of his undeserved position, y’all.