“We must have a forensic audit of the 2020 election results in Texas!” That’s the battle cry we’ve been hearing for months now. Everyone believes that election fraud has happened in Texas and that we must have an audit. We get 2 or 3 emails a week from people wanting True Texas Project to do something about it. No one ever seems to have any specifics on how, where, or why an audit should be done, just “WE NEED AN AUDIT.” I’m pretty sure there has been election fraud in Texas, but I have questions about audits.
In spite of Texans’ persistence about conducting an audit, and even having audit legislation filed in both the Senate and House during recent special sessions, the bills have not passed, and there has been no mechanism put in place for an audit of the 2020 election, or future elections. SB97 by Senator Paul Bettencourt, passed in the Senate during the 2nd special session, but failed to pass in the House. In the 3rd Special Session, Rep. Steve Toth has filed similar legislation, HB16, but election issues are not on the Governor’s call for this session.
Enter President Trump! On Sept 23, President Trump writes a letter to Governor Abbott, asking him to add HB16 to the third special session of the legislature. “Despite my big win in Texas, I hear Texans want an election audit!” Trump wrote in the public letter to Abbott. “Texas needs you to act now. Your Third Special Session is the perfect, and maybe last, opportunity to pass this audit bill. Time is running out.”
Problem solved, right? Trump writes a letter, Trump endorsed Abbott, Abbott needs Trump – Trump says audit the election. Bing, bang, boom, we’re getting an audit! YAY!
Meanwhile, back in Austin, a few hours following the release of President Trump’s letter, suddenly and serendipitously, the Texas Secretary of State’s office announces that they have launched a “full and comprehensive forensic audit” of the 2020 election in four of the largest counties – Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin. Isn’t that convenient? This comes after the SOS Office previously stated that “no evidence that any voting or voter registration systems in Texas were compromised before the 2016 Election or in any subsequent elections.”
Problem #1 – Texas does not currently have a Secretary of State. The appointed position is currently vacant because the Texas Senate failed to confirm the Governor’s nominee, (Ruth Hughes) in 2019. In May of this year, Hughes submitted her resignation because if a secretary of state who was appointed in-between regular legislative sessions goes through an entire session without the Senate confirming her, she is constitutionally required to leave office immediately. The Senate Nominations Committee, chaired by Senator Dawn Buckingham, never took up Hughes’ nomination. Whoever Governor Abbott appoints now to fill the Hughes vacancy will not face Senate confirmation hearings until regular session in 2023, meaning that he/she will be an Abbott puppet with no accountability.
So, who’s running the Secretary of State’s Office now? I’m glad you asked! The SOS office is currently being overseen by Joe Esparza, a former aide to (wait for it…..) Greg Abbott. It’s a great question, too, because if someone’s responsible for conducting a forensic election audit in 4 of the biggest counties in Texas, you want to be sure you can trust that person, right? Do we trust a “former aide to Greg Abbott”? Do we trust Greg Abbott?
Let’s review: Trump snaps his fingers at Abbott, Abbott snaps his fingers at Esparza, 4 counties magically get audited and then everyone is happy, right? The people get what they want, Abbott looks good, vote for Abbott. I think we’ve heard this song before.
What happens after the results come out is anyone’s guess. Can we rely on Abbott and his minion, Esparza, to conduct the audit fairly & effectively and to provide direction with the results? How much do you trust Greg Abbott right now? How many times has he said he will do “X,” but “X” never gets done? Let’s take a trip down Abbott memory lane by re-reading the commentary that Julie McCarty wrote regarding reasons to #FIREABBOTT.
Now that you’ve taken that stroll, what do you think are the odds that a fair and comprehensive audit will get done? Is this just another fake promise that will never materialize? It certainly helps to distract people from things like the border, election integrity legislation, CRT, vaccine and mask mandates, property taxes, child mutilation (I could go on but we all know what that list looks like).
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
Problem #2 – if you ask 5 people what is the definition of “forensic election audit,” you are likely to get 5 different answers. What, exactly, is the definition for the Texas Secretary of State’s office? The answer to that seems to be “no one knows.” I read a bunch of articles from a lot of sources, conservative, liberal, and neutral. They all said the Secretary of State’s office failed to respond to requests for comment. The truth is that no one knows at this point what their definition is or what the audit process will entail because they don’t have a process.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
Problem #3 – audit results can be manipulated the same way that elections can be manipulated. For starters, why only 4 counties? And why these specific counties? We know there were problems in Fort Bend County and Williamson County – why are they not included? Is county size really a good metric for deciding where to audit? The biggest question is what will be done with audit results. It’s highly likely that they will end up in a file cabinet somewhere like the Lost Ark in that warehouse at the end of the movie, never to be seen again. (And we will be told that “top men” are working on it.)
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who will tell me I’m crazy and biased, that we need these audits, that four counties are better than none, that Greg Abbot keeps his promises, and that once we know the results of the audit, everything will be fixed.
For those of us who live in real-ville, however, there are questions that need to be answered. I personally don’t trust the Secretary of State’s Office, I don’t trust Greg Abbott, and I don’t trust that these audits will make any difference to our future election integrity. It’s just the shiny object over here so you don’t look over there. We should be focusing on enforcing the election laws we have, strengthening them where they need strengthening, protecting ourselves from federal government interference in our state elections, and having legislation in place that will provide guidelines for audits in the future when there are questions about the election results (see HB16 and SB97).
For starters, let’s fix SB1 so that the penalties for election fraud are not weaker than they were before! This bill, just passed in 2nd session and signed by Gov. Abbott, reduced criminal penalties for voter fraud from a 2nd Degree Felony to a Class A Misdemeanor! How does that even make any sense?
To sum up, my suggestion is we shouldn’t get too excited about these election audits until we define the parameters. We should keep our eyes open, our skepticism high, and we should BE CAREFULE WHAT WE WISH FOR.
Just my humble opinion,
Fran Rhodes, President