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'No established legal authority' for Texas election audit, 25 Texas House members argue

"The voters of Texas deserve free and fair elections, and that is what they received in November of 2020," Rep. Vikki Goodwin said.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Travis County), along with 24 members of the Texas House of Representatives, has written a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to end what she calls “illegal election audits” in the state of Texas.

Last week, former President Donald Trump sent a letter asking Abbott to add a forensic audit of the 2020 election to the state’s special legislative session agenda. Shortly after, the Secretary of State’s Office announced it had begun a full and comprehensive forensic audit of the 2020 election in four counties, funded by the Legislature.

Rep. Goodwin’s letter makes four arguments against the audit and cites the recently passed GOP-backed election reform bill, SB 1.

She says the Senate failed to confirm the last Secretary of State, Ruth Hughs, who has since vacated the office. She says the deputy director has called for the audits without transparency.

Goodwin also argues there is no legal authority granted by the Legislature or state law to conduct the audits, saying it has been 10 months since the election, and thus not “immediately” after the election as required under SB 1, which is set to take effect December 2021.

Abbott has chosen four of the largest counties in Texas for the audit, which Goodwin says is also in contradiction to SB 1, which allows for two small counties and two large counties to be randomly selected for an audit, once the law takes effect.

"As members of the House of Representatives, we cannot support any funds for this project when there is no established legal authority for it. Additionally, we are concerned about the diversion of the state's resources and its attention at a time when we are facing multiple crises," said Rep. Goodwin. "The voters of Texas deserve free and fair elections, and that is what they received in November of 2020. To conduct an audit, the Secretary of State's office needs more than the wishes of ex-President Trump. It needs legal authority derived from the legislators who represent Texans."

The Travis County representative called for a new secretary of state to be named and confirmed by the Senate.

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