Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Conspiracy theories ignite anger as New Mexico provinces try to certify 2022’s primary vote

ALBUQUERQUE, NM ( Associated Press) – Deep-seated conspiracy theories about the safety of voting machines erupted in violent, furious and sometimes threatening outbursts on Friday when the provinces of New Mexico decided whether to certify the results of their recent primary election. underlined election crisis. that officials fear predicts darker times ahead for the nation’s democracy.

In one politically conservative county, angry residents greeted their three commissioners with screams 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 audience shouted, “Shame on you,” “cowards and traitors,” and “Who did you vote for?”

The commissioners pleaded with the audience for patience and said concerns about alleged election vulnerabilities would eventually be addressed.

“The time and place to fight this battle is not by recruiting this election,” chairman Ryan Schwebach told the crowd.

The certification of elections by typical under-the-radar local commissions has been a routine ministerial task for decades that has become politicized since former President Donald Trump tried to undermine the process following his loss of Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

READ MORE: 2022 New Mexico Primary Election Results

A rural, heavy Republican county in New Mexico put the issue in the spotlight this week when its commission said it would not certify the local results of the June 7 primary because of concerns about Dominion voting systems, even though there was no evidence of problems.

The controversy that began in Otero County boiled over Friday when commissions met in the last of the state’s 33 counties to decide whether to certify the results.

The passionate showdown provided a stark example of the chaos that election experts have warned against, as those who promote the lie that Trump was cheated out of re-election are trying to populate election offices across the country and the usually low-profile councils that certify the results.

The New Mexico Supreme Court earlier this week ordered Otero County to sign off on the election results after the Democratic Secretary of State asked it to intervene. The Attorney General, also a Democrat, then threatened with more legal action if the Republican-dominated commission did not comply with the law.

This could include prosecuting commissioners for possible violations of state election and government ethics laws, which could be crimes if the conduct is intentional and removed from office.

At least one of the three Otero County commissioners was untouched. Commissioner Couy Griffin told Nation World News he did not intend to vote for certification.

“Why have a commission if we’re just dominated by the court system?” he said.

It was not immediately clear what would happen next if Otero and any other province refused to certify its results.

New Mexico’s primary ballot paper included races at all levels – including Congress, governor, attorney general, and a long list of local offices. Those races will not be official until all provinces are certified, leaving candidates and their campaigns in limbo.

The developments can be traced to far-right conspiracy theories about voice machines that have spread across the country over the past two years. Several Trump allies have claimed that Dominion voting systems were somehow manipulated as part of an extensive scheme to steal the election, which Biden won.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting equipment that could have affected the outcome of the 2020 election.

Dominion has filed several defamation lawsuits, including against Fox News, and in a statement earlier this week said the actions by Otero County commissioners were “another example of how lies about Dominion have damaged our company and the public’s belief in elections have diminished. “

READ MORE: Testimony from Trump assistants sheds light on former president’s false voter fraud allegations

Electoral officers outside New Mexico take note. The foreign minister said on Friday it was flooded with calls from officials worried that certification issues would become a new front in the attacks on democratic norms and could affect future elections, especially in 2024.

Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes, a Republican in her fourth term as the province’s chief election administrator, told The Associated Press that the June 7 election went smoothly. Machine counts at 16 polling stations each matched the number of ballots distributed.

“The primary went down without a hitch,” she said. “It was a wonderful election.”

So far, all but four of the state’s 33 provinces have certified their results, and no other provincial officials have publicly said they intend to vote against certification.

Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque and is the state’s most populous, unanimously certified its results earlier Friday. Commissioners agreed that they saw no evidence of problems during the primary view, but Commissioner Walt Benson acknowledged that many people just do not trust the system.

In Otero County, two of the three commissioners must vote in favor of the certification.

Griffin is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, after being convicted of trespassing on limited U.S. Capitol grounds – though not the building – during the January 6 uprising.

State election officials have informed the sentencing judge about Griffin’s refusal to certify primary election results in New Mexico.

Associated Press authors Christina Almeida Cassidy in Atlanta, Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, and Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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