New Mexico county election results certified after court order

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A standoff over voting machine security between a Republican-leaning county in New Mexico and Democratic state officials that threatened to erupt into a broader political crisis was defused on Friday after local commissioners voted for certify their election results.

The Otero County commission’s decision reversed an earlier decision against certifying the June 7 primary results due to unspecified concerns about voting systems.

The two commissioners who voted in favor said they had been threatened with prosecution by the state’s attorney general and had no choice under the law – but slammed their stance as nothing more just rubber stamps.

Commissioner Couy Griffin was the only dissenting vote, but acknowledged he had no reason to question the election results. He logged on to the meeting because he was in Washington, D.C., where hours earlier he had been convicted of entering the restricted grounds of the United States Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. 2021.

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Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June.  17, 2022. Griffin, who is a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked voting machine conspiracy theories, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.  He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served.  (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
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Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June. 17, 2022. Griffin, who is a central figure in a New Mexico county’s refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked voting machine conspiracy theories, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol. He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

“My vote to remain a ‘no’ is not based on any evidence. It’s not based on any facts,” Griffin said, nonetheless calling for a manual recount of the ballots. “It’s purely based on my intuition and my own intuition.”

Otero’s election manager earlier told The Associated Press that the primary went off without a hitch and the results were confirmed afterwards: “It was a great election,” said Robyn Holmes, a republican.

Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who had appealed to the state Supreme Court to intervene, expressed relief at Otero County’s decision and called it “a pity that the commission has pushed our state to the brink of crisis by its actions.”

The confrontation provided a stark example of the chaos that election experts across the United States have warned of as those promoting unsubstantiated claims that former President Donald Trump was cheated out of re-election seek to populate the election offices across the country and the generally low-key councils that certify the results. Conspiracy theories mixed with misinformation have produced an unstable stew that has reduced confidence in the election, led to threats against election officials and created fears of violence in future elections.

Passions were running high on Friday, the last day for New Mexico’s 33 counties to certify their key results. The last six counties to be certified all voted to do so, but it was not without outbursts of fury from some of the meeting attendees.

In a politically conservative county, angry residents greeted their three commissioners with shouts and vitriol as they gathered to consider certification. As the visibly frustrated Torrance County commissioners indicated they were going to vote to certify their election, the public shouted “Shame on you,” “Cowards and traitors,” and “Who elected you? »

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Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June.  17, 2022.

Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June. 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Commissioners pleaded with the public for patience and said concerns about alleged election vulnerabilities would eventually be addressed.

“The time and place to fight this battle is not by soliciting this election,” Speaker Ryan Schwebach told the Torrance County crowd.

In another county, a commission chairman frantically pounded a gavel and ordered law enforcement to clear the livid 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 opposition jeers from a divided audience.

Commissioner Jay Block – a failed Republican candidate in the gubernatorial primary in the June 7 vote – noted his opposition to the boos of approval and applause.

“It is imperative that we have a complete set of facts” about the election, Block said.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting materials that could have affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and no such fraud surfaced midway through this year.

To underscore the accuracy of the election results, another Sandoval County commissioner read to the public the findings of an audit that compared votes recorded by county tabulators in 2020 with a sample of actual paper ballots. The difference was just a fraction of 1% in the races for president, US Senate and other offices – “almost insignificant”, said Republican Commissioner David Heil.

Certification of elections by usually low-key local commissions has been a routine ministerial task for decades that has become politicized since Trump sought to undermine the process following his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Otero County thrust the issue into the spotlight this week when its commission said it would not certify local primary results due to concerns about Dominion voting systems, even though there are no had no evidence of problems. Had they stuck to their guns, commissioners would have potentially disenfranchised more than 7,300 voters in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2020.

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Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June.  17, 2022.

Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters upon his arrival in federal court in Washington on Friday June. 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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New Mexico’s primary ballot included races at every level – including Congress, governor, attorney general and a long list of local offices. These races would not be official until all counties were certified.

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