AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took a step on Tuesday to root out voter fraud—and support President Trump’s challenge of the election results—by putting up $1 million of his own campaign’s cash as a reward for tips that lead to convictions.
But political experts said Patrick’s announcement did more to enhance his own political prospects than help Trump, whose reelection campaign he led in Texas.
“It may not be the best thing for democracy, but for Dan Patrick, it’s the right thing to do,” said Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin. “He’s putting that money up, because he knows he’s not going to be able to make good on it. He’s not going to be able to find that much voter fraud.”
Patrick’s campaign said a voter fraud tip leading to a conviction would land the whistleblower a minimum of $25,000. He urged those with evidence of voter fraud to turn the information over to local law enforcement.
Trump thanked Patrick on Twitter, saying: “Thanks Dan. Big win for us in Texas!”
Joe Biden is the projected 46th president of the United States, and there has so far been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. Trump has pointed to Pennsylvania where ballots continue to be counted. Unlike Texas, Pennsylvania waits to count mail-in ballots until after polls close on Election Day.
John Fetterman, Patrick’s Democratic counterpart in Pennsylvania, responded on Twitter that he would gladly accept Patrick’s reward for voter fraud tips.
“I’d like to collect your handsome reward for reporting voter fraud,” Fetterman said. “I got a dude in Forty Fort, PA who tried to have his dead mom vote for Trump.”
Texas Democrats were surprised to see Patrick’s move given how well down-ballot Republicans fared in elections across the country.
“If they want to question the election results, they should start here in Texas where they won basically everything,” said Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party.
Isolated voter fraud does exist, but not at the scale to swing a national election, according to Craig Goodman, a political science professor at the University of Houston-Victoria.
“There are lots of allegations and, so far, all of the allegations that have been put out there have been thrown out by the courts,” Goodman said.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, tracks voter fraud convictions. While not comprehensive, its database notes nearly 1,300 voter fraud convictions since 1979.
Zack Smith, a legal fellow for the foundation, commended Patrick for his effort to address voter fraud and said even one case of fraud is too many.
“Even if someone suspects voter fraud or may have some evidence of voter fraud, it’s typically very difficult to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in court,” Zack Smith told KXAN.
Political experts argued efforts to change the election results stand little chance.
“We’re talking maybe 1% and even if it is 1%, it’s a miracle 1%, because it would have to happen across many states,” Brian Smith, the political science professor, said.