The Texas legislature's special session ended early Tuesday morning without passing two controversial election bills. These were heavily pushed and financed by Donald Trump. This stymied Trump's call for partisan election audits nationwide to investigate his false claims of fraud in 2020 elections, even in states that he won.
Texas Governor. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Donald Trump meet during a briefing on border security... [+] held in Weslaco (Texas) June 30, 2017. Getty Images
The Key Facts
Texas Senate passed bills to make illegal voting a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and allow for election audits in 2020. However, neither bill was taken up by the House during the special session. Texas Governor. Greg Abbott refused to place the election audit bill on agenda for special session despite repeated protestations by Trump. Trump told the Texas Tribune that it would be a huge mistake for the House to not pass the bill. The audit bill would have allowed candidates and other officials to request election audits from Secretary of State. It also required counties to create election review advisory committees that would examine the results from precincts in order to determine if they were correct. In an October statement, Trump stated that the bill allows Texasans to conduct a strong and genuine Forensic Audit of the 2020 election results. This is in contrast to the weak audit Abbott authorized following Trump's request for the state to investigate his vote count. Opponents argued that the legislation would compromise the results and waste state resources to further Trump's Big Lie about the election being stolen. The House Speaker, Dade Phelan, also refused to put to a vote the bill that would have increased penalties for illegal voting. Trump had previously criticized him for this. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas House passed a resolution against criminal charges for illegal voter participation because it could penalize people who make honest mistakes.
Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston professor of political science, told the Chronicle that Trump was clearly driving the narrative about much of this. Noting that the election audit failed and the illegal voting penalty bills failed, it does not show the limitations of Donald Trump regarding these voting issues.
As high as $250 million. According to analysis by Secure Democracy and AngelouEconomics, that's the amount Texas taxpayers would have to pay for election audits. According to the analysis, $35 million is the most affordable price for a review.
The state is moving forward with other steps, even though Abbott and the Texas House might not have moved forward with the audit bill. The Texas secretary-of-states office requested a review of the election results of four Texas counties. This was used by Abbott to justify not moving ahead with the audit legislation, despite Trump's claim that it does not go far enough. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that his office will also form an election integrity unit to investigate any irregularities in the 2021 elections. Paxton's office said that the effort is a continuation to his Ballot Fraud Intervention Team (2020 election), which the Chronicle reported resulted only in 16 cases being prosecuted, despite the fact that more than 22,000 hours were spent on it.
There is no evidence that voter fraud is widespread in Texas or anywhere else in the U.S. and the Texas secretary-of-states office previously stated that the state election was secure and smooth. Trump's push to have Texas pass its audit bill is part a larger effort by Trump and his allies in an attempt to launch partisan electoral audits across the country. Critics warn that this could lead to distrust in election results. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania lawmakers are already working on election probes, and Trump supporters are pushing for one in Michigan. This is even after the first major partisan electoral audit in Maricopa County (Arizona) found more votes for President Joe Biden that the official state tally. Trump last week warned that Republicans won't vote in 22 and 24 states if they don't address the purported issue election fraud. He called investigating the matter the most important thing Republicans could do.
"The limitation of Donald Trump": Texas Legislature fails to pass an election audit bill (Houston Chronicle).
Texas legislators have passed most, but not all of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority measures in the final rush of lawmaking (Texas Tribune).
Donald Trump puts new pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott is under pressure to perform a forensic audit of election results (Texas Tribune).
Texas legislation would allow partisans to request election audits.
Big Lie Election Audits Continue After Arizona: Here's What's Happening in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Now Texas (Forbes).