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Why Republicans want to audit election results in a state President Donald Trump won

The Texas Secretary of State's office says it's auditing results in four counties, though local elections officials say they know nothing about it.

SAN ANTONIO — Political scientists and watchdogs say Gov. Greg Abbott's administration has not presented evidence it is auditing election results in Tarrant, Collin, Dallas and Harris counties. 

Abbott told Fox News Sunday the audit has been going on for months, but local elections officials have said they only learned of the review Friday. 

The Texas Secretary of State's office announced the audit then, hours after former President Donald Trump demanded Abbott push for a broad investigation into the 2020 election results.

"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."

Trump has repeatedly, baselessly claimed the 2020 election was rigged in President Joe Biden's favor. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

A Republican-backed audit in Maricopa county, Arizona, found Biden won by a larger margin than originally thought. 

Trump specifically asked Abbott to add a bill authorizing a statewide, Maricopa-style review to the special legislative session. The governor has not yet expanded lawmakers' to-do list in this manner.

"It remains to be seen whether the former president is going to be satisfied with what Gov. Abbott is doing here, because it is not what was asked for in (Trump's) letter last week," Quorum Report editor Scott Braddock said.

Taylor says Abbott would be wise to appease Trump's base. So far, two Republicans are hoping to primary Abbott in 2022 by outflanking the governor to his right. 

"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. 

"This is an issue that's probably going to be pivotal with the group that makes the decision in that election," Braddock said. 

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."