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‘We need answers’ | Harris County demands election audit records from Texas secretary of state’s office

County Attorney Christian Menefee sent a letter to the secretary of state’s office Tuesday asking for proof of the audit and demanding all records.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County is turning up the heat on Texas Governor Greg Abbott over the state’s audit of the 2020 election results.

County leaders want to know why they were never informed.

County Attorney Christian Menefee sent a letter to the secretary of state’s office Tuesday asking for proof of the audit, and demanding all records related to it.

Editor's note: The video in this story originally aired on Sept. 24.

“We need answers,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted. “Its intention is to undermine faith in our election processes. Our job is to prevent that from happening.”


Influenced by Trump?

The whole thing started last week when Former President Donald Trump called on Abbott to add a bill to the third special session that would launch a statewide investigation into election results.

Hours later, the secretary of state’s office announced that a “full forensic audit” was already underway in four counties, including Harris. Critics quickly accused Abbott of bowing to pressure from Trump.

Hidalgo called the move a "political ploy by a former president and someone who is trying to win party favor."

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie tweeted described it as “pitiful.”

"Let me be the first to congratulate the disgraced former president, Donald Trump, on his apparently becoming the new governor of Texas," Turner tweeted. "Pitiful yet predictable that @GregAbbott_TX has capitulated to Trump yet again."

On Fox News Sunday, Abbott denied he was following Trump’s orders and said the audit started “months ago,” according to Politico.

Trump won Texas. So why audit the results?

Trump continues to make baseless claims that the election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor, but no evidence of widespread voter fraud has been found in Texas or any other state.

Even though Trump won the Lone Star State, he insists the margin of victory should have been wider.

"Trump claims he should've won by a larger margin than 5 percentage points in Texas," UTSA political scientist Jon Taylor said. "Don't forget, he didn't win by a lot in 2016 either."

Why Abbott needs to appease Trump

UTSA political scientist Jon Taylor said Abbott needs Trump's base if he wants to win in 2022. He already has two conservative Republicans ready to challenge him in the primary.

"This is about proving to that Republican base that Abbott desperately needs to win re-election; that he's in line with what Trump was saying on this," Taylor said.

Many Texas Republicans have supported Trump’s efforts to cast doubts on the election. But few Texas voters actually believe voting fraud is common, with only 19 percent believing ineligible people frequently cast ballots, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll from June.

The problem, Texas State University political scientist Roger Abshire says, is that repeated audits erode public trust in the democratic process.

"The whole notion of constantly questioning the legitimacy of elections may have a detrimental effect on overall perceptions about the election," Abshire said. "I don't imagine it's going to make people want to vote more."

The Texas Tribune and KENS5 contributed to this story.