New Mexico county tests 2024 coup strategy
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A small county in New Mexico conducted a test run of a 2024 election coup last week, led by an insurrectionist that a Trump judge let off with a slap on the wrist.
The Otero County Board of Commissioners refused to certify the June 7 primary election results due to conspiracy theories about the safety of ballots in the Dominion machines and general feelings that the count may not be accurate.
“I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” said Otero County Commissioner Vickie Marquardt on Monday. “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.”
One of the main proponents of the Dominion machine conspiracies, self-proclaimed traveling audit “expert” David Clements, was the primary force behind a much-criticized audit of the county’s 2020 general election results. The audit, built on the premise that voter fraud resulted in Trump’s 2020 loss, is also under investigation by the House Oversight Committee:
According to press reports, New Mexico Audit Force is a non-governmental group, loosely organized on the messaging platform Telegram, and led by “Big Lie” conspiracy theorists. The group’s leaders have said the goal of the canvass is to “pinpoint at least a pretty small list of suspects and then hand it over for criminal prosecution from there,” and have stated: “I want arrests, I want prosecutions, I want firing squads.”
On June 9, the Commission voted to remove all ballot dropboxes in the county and discontinue using Dominion voting machines for the November election—both in violation of state voting regulations. New Mexico requires at least two ballot drop boxes (video-monitored) in each county by law. Furthermore, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office has a contract with Dominion to use their voting machines during elections.
Then, during the June 13 meeting, the Commission voted unanimously against certifying the results of the primary. Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin, Commissioner of District 2, led the charge: “It all simmers down to trust. And right now, and I think I can speak for my other commissioners, we have a big issue with trust right now,” he said.
State Supreme Court orders
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver quickly filed a lawsuit against the Commission with the state’s Supreme Court.
“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,” said Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico’s chief elections officer. “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.”
Two days after the Commission’s vote, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus—an order commanding a government official to fulfill their official duties—directing the Commission to “meet to approve the report of the canvass of the returns and declare the results of the 2022 primary election no later than June 17, 2022.” Failing to comply could result in fines, jail, or removal from office.
The Commission ultimately bowed to the state court’s authority, voting to certify the county’s results in a 2-1 vote.
“The New Mexico Supreme Court, the Democrat-controlled state legislature and the Democrat-controlled Secretary of State and the Attorney General will not allow us to withhold approval pending investigation. Instead, they are railroading this commission into rubber-stamping approval under the threat of criminal charges and jail,” Marquardt said in remarks Friday. “I will be no use to the residents of Otero County from jail or if I am removed from office.”
The single holdout in the final vote? Couy Griffin, who was sentenced for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection the same day he again voted against certifying the lawfully cast votes of his county.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, sentenced Griffin to 14 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, community service, and a year of supervised release for entering restricted Capitol grounds. Because Griffin already spent 20 days in jail, he will receive credit for time served. The maximum sentence McFadden could have handed down was one year in prison.
Griffin maintained his innocence in a statement to the court Friday. He said he didn’t know the grounds were restricted, that he was led by “faith” to the foot of the Capitol. He urged leniency, saying he’d faced hostility at home, including an effort to recall him from his post as a county commissioner for Otero County in New Mexico.
McFadden called Griffin’s explanation “preposterous.” He accused Griffin of using his public position to tout his actions on Jan. 6 and said he continued to make menacing statements about returning to D.C. with firearms.
“You’re probably your own worst enemy,” McFadden said.
Judge McFadden has a history of playing down the crimes of insurrectionists; he issued the very first acquittal of a Jan. 6 defendant, Matthew Martin, who claimed he thought the police had allowed him into the Capitol building. Last year, McFadden criticized what he saw as the unequal treatment of racial justice protesters and Jan. 6 insurrectionists:
On Friday, McFadden said federal prosecutors had undercut themselves on Jan. 6 prosecutions by doing little to impose legal consequences for those who rioted during the racial-justice protests last year.
“I think the U.S. attorney would have more credibility if it was even-handed in its concern about riots and mobs in this city,” he said during another sentencing hearing…