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New Mexico Is Suing Trumpist County Officials Over Refusal to Certify Primaries

The county officials are using former President Trump’s false claims that Dominion voting machines are rigged.

Otero County Commission Chairman and Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin rides his horse on 5th avenue on May 1, 2020, in New York City.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) has filed a lawsuit directly with the state Supreme Court over the refusal to certify election results from last week’s primary races by one county’s Republican-controlled board of commissioners.

Members of the three-person Otero County commission, which includes one individual who stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, have opted not to sign off on the results of the election because they are skeptical of the Dominion Voting Systems machines that were used to tabulate the ballots. Their fears appear predicated on the false notion that the machines were tampered with during the 2020 election to help Joe Biden win the presidency – a lie perpetrated and repeated by former President Donald Trump and supporters who sought to keep him in office beyond his four-year term.

The Otero County commission has made this determination despite any proof of malfeasance in last week’s races, basing their decision entirely on the false claims of fraud that Trump and his loyalists have pushed over the past two years.

One of the members of the commission includes Couy Griffin, a co-founder of the group “Cowboys for Trump” who was convicted in federal court earlier this year for being part of the mob of Trump loyalists who illegally entered the Capitol grounds. Griffin’s sentencing for his role in that event is set to be announced later in June.

Another commission member, Vickie Marquardt, didn’t cite any real reason beyond distrust of the Dominion-based machines when explaining her vote.

“I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” Marquardt said. “When I certify stuff that I don’t know is right, I feel like I’m being dishonest because in my heart I don’t know if it is right.”

The commission voted last week to do a hand count of the ballots instead — a process that is not only more costly, but also less reliable than using machines to count votes. Other officials also noted that the order from the commission goes against state and federal laws.

In a press release announcing her lawsuit, Toulouse Oliver took issue with the commission’s actions, noting they had no basis to act as though the votes in the county primary elections were compromised.

“New Mexico’s 2022 Primary Election was conducted with the highest standards of election administration by dedicated county clerks and civil servants across our state,” the secretary of State said. “The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the Primary.”

Toulouse Oliver’s lawsuit further noted that the county commissioners “identified no deficiency in the election results, but rather made unsubstantiated claims about the voting systems in use throughout the state.”

While the Republican commissioners’ complaints in this instance have no basis in reality, there are legitimate concerns about voting machines that need to be addressed. Voting machines throughout the U.S. are run and managed by private companies, and the contracts they sign with local governments subject them to very limited regulation. There is also no federal standard for how oversight of these machines should be handled, and several tests by tech experts have revealed that they are susceptible to hacking.

Dominion Votings Systems has filed several billion-dollar defamation lawsuits against news organizations and far right Trump loyalists who have repeatedly alleged that Dominion machines helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election by changing voters’ preferences.

While elections experts have warned that concerns about the security and regulation of the voting machines should be taken seriously, the attempts by Trump and his supporters to overturn Biden’s legitimate victory have been proven to be based on patently false claims made by Trump himself.

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