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Congress to probe election misinformation in Texas

Michael Minasi

Across the country, including Texas, many Republican leaders have repeated conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results. Now, a group of lawmakers will investigate.

A U.S. House panel is launching an investigation into election disinformation efforts in four states, including Texas.

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to election administration officials in Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Texas.

In her letter to Remi Garza, the president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators, she asked detailed questions about the organization's efforts to combat "lies and conspiracy theories and protect the integrity of federal elections" in the state.

Maloney said her committee is investigating "partisan actors' weaponization of misinformation and disinformation to subvert free and fair elections."

"Local election officials are crucial to the functioning of our democracy and are the first line of defense in protecting election integrity," Maloney wrote. "An effective, coordinated strategy at the federal, state, and local levels is essential to counter false information that could undermine upcoming elections."

Garza has been asked a series of questions about the impact of misinformation on election administration in Texas and whether the Association or its members have received support from the state or federal government to combat conspiracy theories.

In a statement, Garza said he will survey its members and will issue a timely response.

"It is clear that there are true and lasting detrimental effects caused by misinformation on our citizens’ confidence in the election process," Garza said. "Whether they are seeking to break the public trust or working to discourage participation, we must work together to counter their efforts."

Across the country, including Texas, many Republican leaders have repeated conspiracy theories about the 2020 election results.

Former President Trump carried the state of Texas by about five points, but lost other states. He lost the presidency to President Joe Biden by over 7 million votes.

An audit of some of Texas' biggest counties showed no evidence of widespread voter fraud, as the former president claimed.

Still, Texas Republicans have pushed for the tightening of election rules in the state.

Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a controversial election bill that did things like eliminate overnight voting hours and drive thru voting — two options implemented in Harris County, the most populated county in Texas.

Harris County is also minority-majority, with 44% of its population identifying as Hispanic, 20% as Black, and 7% as Asian.

The law does expand early voting hours, but only in smaller counties.

Copyright 2022 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.