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On Friday, after local commissioners voted to certify the election results, an election machine safety standoff was defused between a Republican-leaning county in New Mexico and Democratic state officials threatening to erupt into a broader political crisis.
The move by the Otero County commission overturned a previous decision against certifying the results of the June 7 primary due to unspecified concerns with voting systems.
The two commissioners who voted in favor said they were threatened with prosecution by the state attorney general and had no choice under the law, but criticized their position as little more than rubber stamps.
Commissioner Couy Griffin was the only dissenting vote, but he acknowledged that he had no basis for questioning the election results. He attended the meeting because he was in Washington, DC, where a few hours earlier he had been convicted of entering restricted land on the United States Capitol during the January 6, 2021 uprising.
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“My vote to remain a ‘no’ is not based on any evidence. It is not based on any fact,” Griffin said, however requesting a manual recount of the ballots. “It is based only on my instincts and my intuition.”
The Otero election official previously told The Associated Press that the primary had gone smoothly and that the results had been confirmed later: “It was a great election,” said Robyn Holmes, a Republican.
Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who appealed to the state Supreme Court to intervene, expressed relief at the Otero County decision and called “a pity that the commission pushed our state to the brink of a crisis with their actions “.
The showdown provided a clear example of the chaos that election pundits in the United States have warned about as those promoting unconfirmed claims that former President Donald Trump has been scammed into re-election seek to populate polling offices. across the country and usually low-key councils that certify the results. Conspiracy theories mixed with disinformation have produced a volatile stew that reduced confidence in elections, led to threats against election officials, and created fears of violence in future elections.
The passions were on full display on Friday, the last day for New Mexico’s 33 counties to certify their primary achievements. The last six counties to certify all voted in favor, but it was not without outbursts of fury from some in attendance at the meetings.
In a politically conservative county, angry residents greeted their three commissioners with shouts and vitriol as they met to consider certification. When the visibly frustrated Torrance County commissioners indicated they would vote to certify their election, the audience shouted “Shame on you”, “cowards and traitors” and “Who elected you?”
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Commissioners pleaded with the public for patience and said concerns about alleged electoral vulnerabilities would eventually be addressed.
“The time and place to fight this battle is not to promote this election,” President Ryan Schwebach told the crowd in Torrance County.
In another county, a commission chairman frantically banged a gavel and ordered law enforcement to clear the bruised protesters from the room. The 4-1 vote to certify the election by a Republican-dominated commission in Sandoval County was nearly drowned out by the jeers of the opposition in a divided audience.
Commissioner Jay Block – a failed Republican primary candidate for governor in the June 7 vote – noted his opposition to cheers and cheers.
“It is imperative that we be presented with a full set of facts” about the elections, Block said.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of election equipment that could have influenced the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and no such fraud has emerged mid-term this year.
To emphasize the accuracy of the election results, another Sandoval County commissioner read to the public the results of an audit that compared the votes recorded by county tabulators in 2020 with a sampling of actual paper ballots. The difference was only a fraction of 1% in the contests for the presidency, the US Senate and other offices – “almost insignificant,” said Republican Commissioner David Heil.
Certifying elections by local committees typically under the radar has been a routine ministerial task for decades that has become politicized since Trump sought to undermine the process following his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Otero County put the issue in the spotlight this week when its committee said it would not certify local primary results due to concerns over the Dominion’s voting systems, even though there was no evidence of problems. Had they clung to their guns, the commissioners would have potentially deprived more than 7,300 voters of civil rights in a county that voted heavily for Trump in 2020.
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The ballot of the New Mexico primary included competitions at all levels, including Congress, governor, attorney general, and a long list of local offices. Those races wouldn’t be official until all counties were certified.