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Texas governor defends upcoming 2020 election audits that Trump demanded

Reuters logo Reuters 9/26/2021 By Brad Brooks
FILE PHOTO: Texas Governor Gregg Abbott speaks during a news conference near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., where migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are waiting to be processed, in Del Rio © Reuters/MARCO BELLO FILE PHOTO: Texas Governor Gregg Abbott speaks during a news conference near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., where migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are waiting to be processed, in Del Rio

(Corrects paragraph 6 to show it's the Texas Secretary of State's office, not Attorney General Ken Paxton, who ordered the audits. Drops reference to Paxton in paragraph 7)

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) -Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday defended his state's upcoming audit of 2020 presidential election results in four counties, action taken after former President Donald Trump demanded probes of the vote last week.

Trump's demand came via an open letter addressed to Abbott on Thursday, part of his continued baseless claim that he lost last November's election to President Joe Biden because of electoral fraud.

On Friday in Arizona, a review of results https://www.reuters.com/world/us/arizona-republicans-release-findings-widely-panned-election-audit-2021-09-24 by Trump allies in that state's most populous county reaffirmed that he lost the 2020 election there.

Abbott told Fox News that he doesn't think the audit is a waste of taxpayer money - despite the fact that Trump easily won the state over Biden.


Video: Arizona GOP’s election audit confirms Biden win, Texas’ new 2020 election audit (Yahoo! Finance)

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"There are audits of every aspect of government," Abbott said. "Why do we audit everything in this world, but people raise our hands in concern when we audit elections, which is fundamental to our democracy?"

'HEAR THE TRUTH'

After Trump issued his letter on Thursday, the Texas Secretary of State's office ordered an audit of four of the most populous Texas counties - Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties. Of those counties, Biden won the popular vote in Harris, Dallas and Tarrant counties, while Trump won in Collin.

Abbott is facing a reelection contest next year, and has already been endorsed by Trump. The governor has made several moves further to the right in recent months in attempts to fend off far-right rivals he'll face in the primary.

Trump's letter demanded that Abbott help support a bill being considered in an ongoing special Texas legislative session, HB 16.

The bill would allow county chairs of political parties to request a review of the 2020 general election results in their counties. It would also make it easier for political candidates and county chairs of political parties to request election audits in the future.

Officials in the counties targeted for the audit told the Texas Tribune newspaper that they had not yet been informed how the audits would proceed or even why they are taking place.

"If people want to hear it again and again and again and again, that nothing's wrong - great," said Harris County elections administrator Isabel Longoria. "But at what point are you going to be willing to hear the truth, that nothing was wrong with the November 2020 elections?"

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; editing by Diane Craft)

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