New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has “asked the state’s attorney general to investigate the [Otero County] commission over several recent actions,” CNN explains. In Oliver’s referral to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, she cited illegal actions the commission took including their refusal so far to certify the results of recent primary elections.
Oliver also pointed to the commission “ordering the removal of ballot-drop boxes and voting to discontinue the use of vote-tallying machines,” as CNN summarized. The Otero County Commission includes Couy Griffin, a co-founder of “Cowboys for Trump” who — besides getting implicated by Oliver — was also charged in connection with last year’s Trump-incited riot at the Capitol and was eventually found guilty of a federal trespassing offense. The Otero commission’s refusal so far to certify the outcomes of those recent primaries is connected to groundless beliefs among right-wingers, including Griffin, regarding the integrity of the election process. “All county officials take an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of New Mexico… The Commissioners in Otero County have violated the public’s trust and our state laws through their recent actions and must be held accountable,” as Oliver put it.
On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court in New Mexico ordered the Otero commission on which Griffin sits to certify those primary results by Friday — but Griffin has indicated he doesn’t intend to actually do so. “I’m not planning to move off my position… Why have a commission if we just get overridden by the court system?” Griffin told CNN in a Thursday interview. Well, checks and balances are a pretty basic concept underpinning various elements of U.S. governance, but that’s clearly lost on Griffin. The Otero commission scheduled a Friday meeting to deal with the issue, but it wasn’t immediately clear how that would actually go. The county commission’s original vote against certifying the primary results was unanimous. As Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt explained her position this past Monday: “I have huge concerns with these voting machines… I really do. I just don’t think in my heart that they can’t be manipulated.”
It’s ridiculous for an elected official to ignore basic facts in front of them in favor of what they feel in their “heart” regarding something that directly impacts their constituents. Scrutinized Dominion-brand election machines used in Otero County in the just recently concluded primary elections apparently count ballots; all elections in the state use paper ballots for the initial casting of votes. There’s never been real-world evidence for (imaginary) fraud perpetrated with the involvement of Dominion equipment, despite consistent claims to the contrary from right-wingers.
As conspiracy theories about the security of the electoral process become only more firmly embedded across the GOP, it seems reasonable to worry that more incidents like what’s going on in Otero could soon emerge. Ahead of the New Mexico Supreme Court’s recent order for the primary results in Otero to be certified, Oliver had asked the court to take exactly that move. According to CBS’s Scott MacFarlane, Oliver’s team notified the Justice Department “it has referred Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner & Jan 6 defendant for new criminal investigation.”
ALERT: New Mexico Sec of State notifies Justice Dept it has referred Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner & Jan 6 defendant for new criminal investigation
For refusing this month "to comply with.. mandatory duty under the Election Code in certifying the election returns" pic.twitter.com/kG3vMSzgZ1
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) June 17, 2022
Featured image: Brett Davis, available under a Creative Commons license