AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas election officials said Thursday night they were auditing the 2020 results in four large counties hours after former President Donald Trump, continuing to falsely claim the election was stolen, pressed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for a ballot review.
Trump won Texas last year by 5.5 percentage points, the closest margin of victory by a GOP presidential nominee in decades.
The Texas Secretary of State’s Office did not say what prompted the announcement in an evening news release. Earlier this year, Keith Ingram, the office’s elections administrator, said the 2020 elections in Texas were “safe and secure.”
The audited counties will include the major Democratic strongholds around Houston and Dallas, as well as Tarrant County, which for years has been the largest GOP-controlled county in Texas but went for President Joe Biden last year.
“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,” the statement read.
It went on to say the office expects the Legislature to provide funding for the audit. It was not clear who would conduct the review, and a spokesman for the office did not return a message late Thursday.
The Secretary of State is appointed by the governor in Texas but has remained vacant since Ruth Ruggero Hughs stepped down in May. An Abbott spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the announcement late Thursday.
Trump called on Abbott to conduct an audit of the Texas election in a statement earlier Thursday, saying “your citizens don’t trust the election system.” Trump has falsely claimed that claimed that voting fraud and irregularities cost him electoral votes in Arizona, where on Friday his supporters hired to review the 2020 vote count are expected to deliver their findings.
The other county in the Texas review is booming Collin County, in suburban Dallas, which went for Trump last year.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat and the county’s top elected official, swiftly criticized the move. “Donald Trump ordered Gov. Abbott to audit the 2020 Texas election and, like clockwork, TX just initiated an audit of Harris County voters. Democracy isn’t a game,” she tweeted.