Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday he is offering up to $1 million to “incentivize, encourage and reward” people for reports of voter fraud in Texas, even as there’s been no evidence of mass voter fraud and experts say it’s rare.
The Republican state leader’s crusade for proof of election problems in Texas comes as members of his own party dominated up and down the ballot. Patrick said that anyone who provides information that leads to a conviction will receive at least $25,000. The money will come from Patrick’s campaign fund, according to spokesperson Sherry Sylvester.
“I support President Trump’s efforts to identify voter fraud in the presidential election and his commitment to making sure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is disqualified,” Patrick said in a statement. “The delays in counting mail-in ballots in other states raises more questions about voter fraud and potential mistakes.”
He did not provide any evidence of mass voter fraud. His press release cited three recent arrests, including that of a social worker in Mexia, Texas, on counts of election fraud over allegations that the worker registered to vote 67 residents of a supported living center without their consent.
An unprecedented number of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic slowed ballot counting in a handful of states, including the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, where election officials were barred from processing them before Election Day. The Republican-controlled legislature shot down a request from Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar that would’ve allowed election officials to start counting mail-in ballots before polls closed.
“These people want to delegitimize votes in order to appeal to their Trumpian base,” said Abhi Rahman, a spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party. “We know that there’s a lot of work to do here in Texas and Dan Patrick is in our sights in 2022.” Texas Republicans managed to stave off Democratic gains, particularly in down-ballot congressional and state legislative races where Democrats hoped to shrink the ruling party’s margin. President Donald Trump carried Texas by nearly 6 percentage points, according to Decision Desk HQ.
Patrick, in an October interview with “The Mark Davis Show,” claimed that Democrats were trying to “steal the election.”
“If the president loses Pennsylvania or North Carolina, Mark, or Florida, they’ll lose it because they stole it,” he said, without evidence. Trump’s campaign has filed a barrage of legal challenges in key states — including Georgia and Wisconsin — in an attempt to close the widening gap between the president and Joe Biden, who was declared president-elect on Saturday. Those lawsuits, however, have so far failed to pan out. Judges tossed out cases in Nevada and Michigan because the Trump campaign failed to prove allegations of fraud, NPR reported.
Yet some of Texas’ most prominent Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, jumped to the president’s defense in recent days, amplifying baseless conspiracy theories or spreading misinformation. “The right standard is that every single vote that was legally cast should be counted, but any votes that were illegally cast shouldn’t be counted,” Cruz said on Fox News’ “Hannity,” though he offered no evidence of fraud.