Now that the so-called Arizona election audit has failed, Donald Trump and his supporters have set their sights on a new target: Texas. Or at least part of Texas.
Trump won the state by some 630,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election, but that didn’t stop him from sending Gov. Greg Abbott an open letter on Thursday urging him to support Texas House Bill 16. If passed, the bill would allow local officials to request that counties review ballots. Abbott, it turns out, didn’t need much prodding: Shortly thereafter, the secretary of state’s office announced audits in Harris County (which includes Houston), Tarrant County (Fort Worth), Dallas County, and Collin County (Plano). Trump carried Collin, while Biden won the other three.
It’s unclear what these Texas audits would achieve; as in Arizona, there was never information suggesting that the results of the election were illegitimate or fraudulent. (After pushing through the process in Arizona, results on Thursday showed Biden winning the state by more votes than following the first count.)
But as my colleague Tim Murphy wrote on Friday, Arizona’s audit was never about just overturning the election—it was also a useful political weapon to drum up energy on the right:
The point was to leave an official imprint of skepticism on an electoral process that never warranted it. To amplify conspiracies and foment anger about the election, while the legislature went ahead and made it harder for certain people to vote—and, to show fealty to an ex-president who continues to hold sway over a political party veering farther away from democracy.
Meanwhile, Republican legislatures in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are pressing forward on election audits in their states, both of which Biden won. These audits coincide with a wave of GOP-led efforts across the country to reduce access to voting through new voter suppression laws.