Primary races in one New Mexico county may not be certified after a Republican-led commission voted unanimously this week not to approve election results due to mistrust of voting machines — and a key deadline is fast approaching.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) pressed the state Supreme Court to overturn the decision Tuesday, just one day after the three-member Otero County commission agreed not to certify the results of the June 7 primary election, according to the Associated Press. The commissioners raised concerns about alleged discrepancies with the voting machines used for the primary election, though they did not offer specific examples.
“I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” Otero County Commissioner Vickie Marquardt said 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.”
Dominion Voting Systems has been at the center of voter fraud claims since the 2020 election, when allies of former President Donald Trump claimed the machines were hacked to change votes in favor of President Joe Biden. The company has denied the fraud allegations and filed several defamation lawsuits in response to the claims.
However, a federal cyber agency recently released a bulletin warning that voting equipment from Dominion in more than a dozen states has vulnerabilities, though it noted there is no evidence of any of the weaknesses being exploited. Brandon Wales, executive director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, said his department is working with election officials to address the concerns.
A Dominion representative said the CISA advisory “reaffirms what thousands of hand counts and recounts have proven: Dominion machines are accurate and secure,” according to CNN.
“The issues raised in the advisory are limited to ballot marking devices, not vote tabulators,” the spokesperson added. “These issues require unfettered physical access to election equipment, which is already prohibited by mandatory election protocols. Every voting system, even hand counting, depends on these same process protections to ensure secure elections.”
One of the members of the GOP-led commission in New Mexico who voted against certifying the election is Couy Griffin. He was convicted on charges of illegally entering restricted grounds at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and is scheduled for sentencing later this month.
The commission is legally allowed to request that the voting precinct board address certain discrepancies before voting to certify the election, though the Otero commission did not identify any specific concerns before their vote Monday, the Associated Press report 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 said in a statement.
The Otero commission voted last week to recount primary ballots by hand, remove ballot drop boxes that allow voters to submit absentee ballots, and halt the use of Dominion machines in the November election.
County Clerk Robyn Holmes denied those requests, noting they conflict with state and federal laws. The Dominion machines are also independently certified and tested by Otero officials in public view ahead of elections, according to Holmes. However, Griffin said the commission doesn’t find that process trustworthy.
“That’s a source that we don’t have any control or influence over,” he said.
The primary election last week in Otero listed four countywide races, including county assessor, county commissioners for the 2nd and 11th districts, and county sheriff.
James Bowman won the nomination for Otero county assessor over challenger Eileen Dorton, and he is set to win the position outright when the results are certified, as there was no Democratic candidate.
Incumbent Gerald Matherly won the Republican nod for the 1st District county commissioner. He is poised not to face a challenger in November, as the only Democratic candidate withdrew from the primary. David Black also won his primary for county sheriff after running uncontested.
The only race to set up a real contest in November was the primary for the 11th District county commissioner. Stephanie Dubois won the Democratic nomination and will face the winner of the GOP primary between Amy Barela and G.B. Oliver, which is poised for a recount because the race remained too close to call Tuesday.
The refusal to certify the primary election results may delay the outcome of several races in November. County canvassing boards have until Friday to certify election results so the state can finalize ballots for the general election.