87th LegislatureElections 2020IssuesState HouseHouston Area Republican Proposes Forensic Audit of 2020’s General Election in 13 Texas Counties

Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session has been at a standstill for a lack of a quorum since Democrats fled Austin for Washington, D.C.
July 19, 2021
In a special session that has accomplished little due to a walkout by Democrats, Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) announced a bill on Monday morning to commence a “forensic audit of the 2020 general election” to “uncover all the voter fraud.” Toth filed House Bill (HB) 241 last week and titled it the Texas Voter Confidence Act.

“Prior to the special session, I met with constituents across District 15 in South Montgomery County. The Texas Voter Confidence Act is a product of those meetings and a direct request from the voters who sent me to Austin,” Toth said. “Texans want to know more about the claims of voter fraud and deserve to have confidence in their elections.”

The two-page bill would require an “independent third party” appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the Texas House to conduct a forensic audit of the general elections in counties with populations of more than 415,000 residents, which would cover 13 counties. The audit would have to begin by November 1 and be complete by February 1 of next year.

Toth highlighted the instances of voter fraud that have been prosecuted by Attorney General Ken Paxton. While occurrences of fraud alleged by state officials are few in comparison to the total number of votes cast in Texas, the attorney general’s election integrity unit reported at a hearing in March that there are 510 alleged offenses against 43 defendants currently pending prosecution. In addition, there are almost 400 election fraud investigations under way. Jonathan White, the chief of the election fraud section, said that prosecutions are at an “all time high.”

The state representative’s office included a statement from County Judge Mark Keough of Montgomery County in support of HB 241.

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“Representative Toth’s proposed bill is timely and necessary with a view to exposing any instances of fraud during the 2020 election and reassuring Texas voters that their votes were accurately counted,” Keough said. “I fully support passage of this bill and look forward to the results of the audit.”

Gov. Greg Abbott called the state lawmakers to Austin for a special session, which began on July 8 and stalled soon thereafter when most Democrats skipped town to prevent the GOP from passing an election reform bill.

The Texas House is currently in a “call of the House” for the first time in 18 years, which could result in absent lawmakers being arrested if they are found in Texas. However, Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) indicated in a press statement on Thursday that Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has not ordered strict enforcement.

“I have been in direct contact with both [the Texas Department of Public Safety] and the Sergeant at Arms, and they have not been directed to go and retrieve the Democrats who are currently still in Texas,” Biedermann said. “I am tired of the political theatre from both sides of the aisle.”

When the House voted to initiate the call of the House, Phelan instructed the sergeant at arms to compel the attendance of absent members “under warrant of arrest if necessary,” per the Texas House rules.

A copy of HB 241 can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."