The Harris County Commissioners Court has green lit the exploration of a lawsuit, in a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, over the county’s inclusion in the next round of election audits. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo attacked the selection as “politically motivated” and “a distraction.” Other county officials disputed (without evidence) the randomness of the selected counties.
This poses the question: What is it about an audit that strikes fear into the hearts of Harris County officials?
Unlike the objectors on the Harris County Commissioners court, who claim they are the subject of a vast rightwing conspiracy to undermine their elections, Texans want safe and secure elections. And right now, the facts show that not only was Harris County’s inclusion in the next audit completely legal, but is also necessary to ensure that voters have faith in their elections.
Harris County attorney Christian Menefee alleged in a video that the state government may have broken the law when it selected the county to be audited. He claimed that the video of the announcement released by the Secretary of State was “highly suspicious” when compared to the laws that established the audit division’s selection process. However, none of the actions taken by the Secretary of State or its audit division violated any laws.
The election code (Sec. 127.351) mandates that counties be selected for auditing “at random,” and that “the secretary of state shall adopt rules as necessary to implement this selection.” Nowhere in the statute does the law force the Secretary of State to film the process. That was done of their own volition.
In fact, the statute never mentions a specific transparency process, only that the counties be selected at random. With the evidence we have, it’s impossible to claim that the process was anything other than completely random. Arguing otherwise is a conspiracy theory.
Naturally, Americans’ confidence in the accuracy of elections is correlated with who their preferred candidate is and whether or not they win. For any public official concerned with ensuring the legitimacy of election results, that’s a challenge and it’s solved through random audits.
Any reasonable official, such as Harris County’s own nonpartisan interim elections administrator Beth Stevens, would view the audit for what it is: an opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong and show the public that their elections are being run responsibly.
Public trust in our elections is essential for a healthy and thriving democracy. Without it, the American experiment is a failure. Partisans in Harris County should quit playing politics, drop their frivolous legal claims, and willingly accept the audit.