Voting 2020

Voters cast their ballots. File photo.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday released additional details regarding a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election that is set to include Collin and Dallas counties. 

Days before, the office had announced that it had begun a “full forensic audit” of 2020 general election results in the state’s two largest Democratic counties and two largest Republican counties: Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin counties made the list.

“We anticipate the Legislature will provide funds for this purpose,” the office stated.  

According to the Texas Tribune, the announcement came hours after former President Donald J. Trump sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott calling for the addition of an election audit bill to the third special session of the Texas Legislature.

Official election results posted on the Texas Secretary of State’s website show that three of the four counties voted for President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the 2020 general election. Collin County was the only one of the four that overall voted in favor of Trump in the 2020 general election with 51.4% of the votes cast. Dallas County overall showed favor for Biden with 65.1% of votes cast. 

Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said the information released Tuesday was the only thing they had seen to date regarding the audit besides the initial announcement.  

“It’s very helpful to us,” he said. “We have this information now, we’re certainly prepared to assist in any way possible.”  

The details released outlined two “phases,” the second of which would extend into Spring 2022. 

The office said phase one had already begun. 

The office stated that for every election, counties are required to conduct a partial manual count of voting system ballots within 72 hours of polls closing to ensure voting system accuracy. In addition, the office said all 254 Texas counties had already undergone Election Security Assessments, which they are required to do. 

As part of the audit process, the office said it has received reports from the Electronic Registration Information Center regarding voters who “may have voted twice in state and across state lines,” and a report of “persons who may have been deceased when a vote was cast in their name.” The office said it had identified “potential non-U.S. citizen voters.”

“They do this as a normal process in every election basically, is looking through the files, if they’ve been notified of any possible ineligible voters such as maybe deceased individuals or individuals with felony convictions or people possibly registered in more than one state that may have voted in both states, and non-U.S. citizens by some indication that they’ve received,” Sherbet said. “Those are part of a normal audit process that happens every month in voter registration, so as a part of their first phase, they’re just going end to end going through all of that part of the process on phase one, which will be things that they can do at the state level.” 

The office has said it directed county voter registrars to verify the eligibility of registered voters and cancel their registration if they do not present proof of eligibility. The office said it then evaluates canceled people and refers any instance of illegal voting to the Office of the Texas Attorney General for investigation. 

Phase two, slated for spring 2022, involves the office conducting a comprehensive election records examination over several months “to ensure election administration procedures were properly followed during the 2020 General Election.” That includes looking at county records including logic and accuracy testing records for voting machines, early voting and election day materials and training materials.

Irregularities or deviations from election administration procedures could trigger a full manual recount of ballots in a certain area, the office stated.

“I’m very confident that Collin County will come through this audit very well,” Sherbet said. “We had a very smooth and good election, and I think the biggest part for me is if this audit will help voters that don’t have confidence in the process have confidence or more confidence that everything was handled appropriately, then that’s very important.” 

He added that the state’s move was a proactive one. 

Sherbet said the office indicated that it would not be using a third party for the audit.

“That certainly sounds reasonable to us, and so we’ll just be on standby to see what way we can offer assistance and keep moving on,” he said.  

On Sept. 24, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said there had been free and fair elections in Dallas County and in other “Republican-winning” counties, too. 

“We have good elections here,” Jenkins said. “And our problem is not that people vote for Donald Trump and it shows up as Biden, or that people are sneaking, tearing up ballots in the back room. The problem is that we make it hard in Texas for people to vote and register, and we have a participation problem. But I don’t have any concerns that when these votes are audited, we’ll see that those people who did vote, that the votes went to the candidate that they should have gone to, that the voter voted for.” 

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