Texas’s ‘Forensic Audit’ of the 2020 Election

In September, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election — just hours after former President Donald Trump publicly asked Gov. Greg Abbott to do so. Texas joins the growing number of states launching baseless election investigations that undermine trust in democracy.

On Sept. 23, 2021, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced that it “had already begun the process” of investigating 2020 election results in four of the state’s largest counties. The statement came just hours after former president Donald Trump publicly urged Gov. Greg Abbott to back legislation that would create a review similar to the sham process undertaken by the Arizona Senate.

The Texas effort follows similar democracy-undermining investigations in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and represents another attempt to sow doubt about the election’s outcome and give fuel to the Big Lie. Less than a day after the Texas secretary of state’s announcement, the Arizona Senate’s partisan “audit” presented its findings, which reached the same conclusion that had already been confirmed by actual independent audits — that Joe Biden received more votes than Trump in Maricopa County.

Trump’s demand for the investigation in Texas came nearly a year after he won the state by a 5.6 percent margin. The “audit” will focus on results in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Collin counties, all of which except Collin were won by Joe Biden. After the announcement by the secretary of state’s office that the process had “already begun,” county officials told news outlets that they had received no requests from the office for election materials.

The office followed up five days later with more information, saying that the investigation’s first phase — which includes a voting machine and cybersecurity test that state law already requires in all counties — was underway. The second portion of the investigation is set to take place in the spring of 2022, with the office conducting “a comprehensive election records examination over the next several months to ensure election administration procedures were properly followed.” A document released by the office did not contain information on how the “comprehensive review” would be conducted, but it did state that “irregularities” found in the state’s election procedures “could trigger a full manual recount of ballots.”

The results of the 2020 presidential election are not in doubt and there have been no credible allegations of fraud or misconduct that could have affected the outcome in Texas or any state. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas, and the state’s secretary of state’s office had previously called the 2020 election “smooth and secure.” Dozens of other lawsuits filed by Trump and his supporters failed to show evidence of widespread fraud and have been rejected by judges across the country. 

The fallout from these baseless investigations is a deepening sense of democratic distrust and the undermining of the U.S.’s electoral system. American Oversight has launched an investigation into the Texas “audit,” submitting more than a dozen open records requests for related communications from the secretary of state’s, governor’s, and attorney general’s offices as well as the elections departments and county commissioners courts in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Collin counties. We will update this page with new findings.

Updates

Records Reveal Big Lie Activists’ Coordination Across Texas, Emails to Texas Secretary of State

August 8, 2022
Documents obtained by American Oversight and reporting by Votebeat Texas have provided a window into the coordinated efforts of a conservative “election integrity” group in Texas to seek evidence of and advance lies about widespread voter fraud.

In the Documents: Patrick Byrne’s Continued Involvement in Election-Denying Efforts

July 15, 2022
American Oversight has obtained documents from several states showing the former Overstock.com CEO's efforts to undermine the 2020 election.

American Oversight Obtains Staff Salary Records from Texas Secretary of State’s ‘Election Audit Division’

June 27, 2022
A spreadsheet obtained by American Oversight shows that the new division in the Texas secretary of state’s office was allocated roughly $120,000 per month for salaries.

News Roundup: A Coordinated Coup Attempt

January 14, 2022
We’ve written a lot about the Big Lie’s evolution — from fear-mongering about voter fraud to the attempts to subvert the 2020 election, to the ongoing partisan election reviews — and the network of activists who have been keeping this anti-democratic movement alive.

Fake Electoral Certificates Obtained by American Oversight Draw Renewed Scrutiny

January 12, 2022
The phony documents were submitted to Congress by Republicans in several states who sought to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory by casting the state’s electoral votes for Trump instead.
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Related Documents

May 17, 2023

Tarrant County, Texas, Records Related to Staffing and Budget of Election Integrity Task Force

Texas - Tarrant County
Agency Record
November 14, 2022

Texas Secretary of State Policy Documents Related to Any Audit of the November 2020 Election

Texas Secretary of State
Agency Record
September 14, 2022

Collin County, Texas, Commissioners Court Records from Meetings with Citizens for Election Integrity Texas and Russ Ramsland

Texas - Collin County
Agency Record
January 7, 2022

Collin County, Texas, Records of Sent Emails Concerning Audit of County’s 2020 General Election Results

Texas - Collin County
Agency Record
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Dallas County, Texas, for Sent Emails Concerning Audit of County’s 2020 General Election Results

Texas - Dallas County
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Texas Governor for Sent Communications Concerning Audit of 2020 General Election Results in Four Counties

Texas Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Texas Governor for Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Associates of Former President Trump

Texas Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Texas Secretary of State for Sent Communications Concerning 2020 General Election Results in Four Counties

Texas Secretary of State
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Texas Secretary of State for Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Associates of Former President Trump

Texas Secretary of State
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Tarrant County, Texas, for Sent Emails Concerning Audit of CountyÕs 2020 General Election Results

Texas - Tarrant County
FOIA Request
December 17, 2021

Records Request to Tarrant County, Texas, for Sent Emails of Commissioners Court Concerning Audit of County’s 2020 General Election Results

Texas - Tarrant County
FOIA Request
November 22, 2021

Texas Governor’s Office Records of Communications with Specific Voting-Restriction Activists

Texas Office of the Governor
Agency Record
November 16, 2021

Texas Attorney General’s Records Related to the Election Integrity Division

Texas, Texas Attorney General
Agency Record
November 16, 2021

Texas Attorney General Records Related to the Election Integrity Division

Texas Attorney General
Agency Record
November 5, 2021

Montana Attorney General Records of Communications Related to Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election

Montana Attorney General
Agency Record
October 26, 2021

Texas Governor’s Office Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Trump White House

Texas Office of the Governor
Agency Record
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Attorney General for Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Former President Trump’s Associates

Texas Attorney General
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Governor for Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Former President Trump’s Associates

Texas Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Secretary of State for Communications with Pro-Audit Activists and Former President Trump’s Associates

Texas Secretary of State
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Collin County, Texas, Commissioners Court for Communications Sent to Specific Individuals Regarding 2020 General Election ‘Audit’

Texas - Collin County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Tarrant County, Texas, Commissioners Court for Communications Sent to Specific Individuals Regarding 2020 General Election ‘Audit’

Texas - Tarrant County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court for Communications Sent to Specific Individuals Regarding 2020 General Election ‘Audit’

Texas - Harris County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Dallas County, Texas, Commissioners Court for Communications Sent to Specific Individuals Regarding 2020 General Election ‘Audit’

Texas - Dallas County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Collin County, Texas, Elections Department Seeking Sent Communications Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results

Texas - Collin County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Tarrant County, Texas, Elections Department Seeking Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results

Texas - Tarrant County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Harris County, Texas, Elections Department Seeking Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results

Texas - Harris County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Dallas County, Texas, Elections Department for Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results

Texas - Dallas County
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Attorney General for Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results in Several Counties

Texas Attorney General
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Governor for Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results in Several Counties

Texas Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
October 5, 2021

Records Request to the Texas Secretary of State for Sent Communications Concerning the Audits of the 2020 Election Results in Several Counties

Texas Secretary of State
FOIA Request
October 15, 2020

Texas Secretary of State Records Released in Response to Request for State Communications with Voting-Restriction Groups

Texas Secretary of State
Agency Record