The letter to Gov. Greg Abbott from former President Donald Trump seeking a recount of the state’s vote 10 months after the November 2020 election, followed by an announced recount in four urban counties will prove to be a waste of millions of dollars.

That’s not just my prediction. Election officials in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties believe the same. No wonder voters in Texas in growing numbers disagree with the state’s direction and the actions of Republican officeholders.

Audits or recounts in at least four other states have failed to uncover the fraud that Trump and many of his prominent supporters continue to peddle on Fox News programs, social media platforms, and fringe websites. In Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the outcome remained the same. Texas will be no exception.

This is no longer a tiresome partisan debate, one of fact versus fiction. It’s delusion. It’s invention. It’s conspiracy theory. It’s a fairy tale retold.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s 19th century fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes, a pompous, self-absorbed emperor who overspends on his kingly wardrobe while derelict in his duties gets duped by two conmen who roll into town and convince him they can spin and weave magnificent royal garments “invisible to anyone unfit for his office, or unusually stupid.”

The emperor eagerly puts the two swindlers to work, only to discover in due course that their looms appear empty to him. His many advisors, fearful of being labeled stupid, go along with the delusion. Rather than admit he could not see their work, the emperor praises the richness of the new garments and undresses as they pretend to garb him in the newly woven clothes. The emperor, dressed only in his birthday suit, heads out to lead a procession through the city where his subjects, not wanting to appear doltish, praise his new clothes.

It takes a small child to call out the truth: “But he hasn’t got anything on.” Only then did the townspeople join in exclaiming the truth. The emperor walked on, clinging to his delusion: “So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”

Abbott and the functionaries in the secretary of state’s office led by Deputy Secretary of State Jose Esparza, Abbott’s former appointments manager, are Trump’s “noblemen,” holding high his conspiracy theories of massive voter fraud like so many nonexistent royal garments.

The office of the secretary of state, which oversees all elections in Texas, remains empty four months after an Abbott appointee, Ruth Ruggero Hughs, was forced to resign after the Senate Nominations Committee failed to take up her nomination, an act of political brinksmanship on the part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Abbott and Patrick publicly pretend to work hand in hand, but insiders say they loathe each other.

Hughs replaced David Whitley, who similarly was forced to resign at the end of the 2019 legislative session when his appointment by Abbott did not receive Senate confirmation. Whitley infamously attempted to purge voter rolls of what he claimed were tens of thousands of noncitizens who, in fact, turned out to be naturalized citizens.

Thursday’s announced audit merely perpetuates that office’s record of incompetence and partisan meddling in election and voter oversight.

A record turnout at the polls last November, despite the pandemic, is a testament to the ingenuity and dedication of local election officials in all of the major population centers of the state. The failure afterward to uncover any evidence of voter fraud was ignored by Abbott and Republicans in the last special session. A new law restricts the authority of local officials to provide innovative ways for more people to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

And now, in a third special session that began last week, Republican legislators will labor to draw new redistricting lines perpetuating their party’s hold on state offices and the legislature. Many voters might wish otherwise, but no one is asking them except the pollsters.

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.