The legislation, filed just last week by state Rep. Steve Toth, could have Texas follow Arizona's GOP-led Senate's lead in conducting a partisan inspection of election machines and materials. The move prompted criticism from Democrats and state officials who argue there is no evidence backing former President Donald Trump's claims of widespread fraud.
The audit would target countries whose population stands at more than 415,000 people and calls on the governor, lieutenant governor, and House speaker to appoint an "independent third party" to conduct the review between Nov. 1, 2021, and Feb. 1, 2022.
A report is mandated to be delivered to Texas officials by the first of March, 2022, "detailing any anomalies or discrepancies in voter data, ballot data, or tabulation,” as per the bill.
“Not later than March 1, 2022, the independent third party conducting the audit under this section shall submit a report to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house of representatives, and each member of the legislature detailing any anomalies or discrepancies in voter data, ballot data, or tabulation,” the bill reads
The legislation, co-authored by more than a dozen Republicans, was introduced on July 12, the same day many House Democrats fled the state to break quorum so the chamber would not be able to take up voting bills they oppose or any other legislation, for that matter, during a special session, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
State Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, claimed the audit legislation sounds like “it’s all based on the lie that there’s widespread voter fraud and Donald Trump really won the election," according to the Dallas Morning News.
Trump won the state of Texas and its 38 electoral votes with roughly 52% of the vote, defeating Biden even though the Democrat performed better in cities and the suburbs than fellow Dem Hillary Clinton did back in the 2016 race.
Ten of the 13 counties that would be covered by the Texas audit, including Dallas and Tarrant counties, were won by Biden, including those that cover Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.
“We need a forensic audit to uncover all the voter fraud,” Toth said in an online post on Monday. He said the bill, called the Texas Voter Confidence Act, is a product of meetings with constituents and "a direct request from the voters who sent me to Austin."
Former U.S Attorney General William Barr has said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 general election that could have altered the results.
In Arizona, a 2020 battleground state won by Biden, Senate Republicans have enlisted contractors to audit the 2020 election. The audit centers on the vote count in Maricopa County.