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New Mexico county certifies primary election per state Supreme Court order

The state’s Democratic secretary of state sued the rural county’s Republican canvassing board after it voted against certifying primary election results.

(CN) — Four days after voting against certifying its 2022 primary election results, a southern New Mexico county’s election officials voted two to one to certify the election within the state Supreme Court’s Friday deadline.

Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin cast the Otero County Canvassing Board’s lone dissenting vote, citing vague concerns that the county’s Dominion voting machines were insecure. In addition to repeating unsubstantiated claims of 2020 election fraud putting the wrong president in the White House, Griffin was found guilty of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Griffin telecommuted to the meeting from Washington D.C., where he was sentenced to 14 days in jail and fined $3,000 for the charges.

During Friday’s emergency meeting, Griffin reiterated that he had wanted to inspect the voting machines for a modem and to hand-count the ballots.

“I am relieved that the Otero County Commission finally did the right thing and followed their duty under New Mexico law to certify the free and fair results of the 2022 primary election,” said Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in a statement.

Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, had applauded the New Mexico Supreme Court’s order issued Wednesday requiring the county officials to certify the election results.

“We note that the commission admitted that they did not have any facts to support not certifying the election results. It’s unfortunate that we had to take action to make sure Otero County voters were not disenfranchised,” Toulouse Oliver added. “We have great confidence in the Otero County clerk and her staff who oversaw this election and properly canvassed these results.”

Toulouse Oliver sued Otero County on Tuesday after the three-member canvassing board, all Republicans, voted against certifying the results of the 2022 primary election; they cited =concerns from constituents over the security of the county’s voting machines.

In response to baseless accusations of its machines contributing to voter fraud, Dominion Voting Systems has filed several defamation lawsuits against Fox News, Newsmax, One America News Network and others that disseminated the conservative conspiracy theory.

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the county to certify election results by Friday.

In Friday’s emergency meeting, Otero County Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt cited recent laws passed by the New Mexico’s Democratic-led legislature that shifted the authority to examine election discrepancies from county canvassing boards to county clerks.

New Mexico doesn’t give the board the ability to delay certification. State law instead requires county canvassing boards “meet to approve the report of the canvass of the returns and declare the results no sooner than six days and no later than ten days from the date of the election.”

No credible evidence of election fraud influencing Otero County’s elections has been released thus far. The county clerk recommended approving the canvass report.

While candidates are allowed to request and bear the cost of a hand recount, the commission cannot initiate a hand recount of ballots without approval from the secretary of state.

“Toulouse Oliver took the opportunity to accuse the commission of being part of a conspiracy theory and threatening us with jail,” Marquardt said during the meeting. “My concerns have nothing to do with the 2020 presidential election and are solely focused on whether any irregularities occurred during the 2022 primary elections in Otero County, New Mexico.”

With tears in her eyes, Marquardt said she was voting to certify the election because she thought she could do more good for the county by remaining in office rather than being sent to jail.

“I can think of no reason why election results should be rubber stamped for approval, but perhaps those in the Legislature can tell you,” Marquardt said, urging constituents to direct their concerns to their legislators.

Per the secretary of state’s office, 7,371 of the Otero County’s 27,079 registered voters participated in the 2022 primary election.

New Mexico’s complaint expressed concern that other county canvassing boards across the state might be influenced to shirk, not just in the primary election, but in the November general as well.

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