On Friday, the Otero County Commission met in the capacity of the county’s Canvass Board to certify the results of the 2022 Primary Election. The emergency meeting announced Thursday afternoon happened after Democrat New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver took the commissioners to the state Supreme Court to compel them to certify, which it did.
Toulouse Oliver also sent a criminal referral to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, who would pursue legal action against the commissioners resulting in felony charges and potential removal from office.
During the meeting, Commissioner Vickie Marquardt, the chairwoman of the Commission, said the state was forcing the commissioners to be “rubber-stamping this” certification or else she and the others would be jailed.
“I will be of no use if I am in jail,” said Marquardt, stating how the state law gives County Commissions no power to object to election results even if there are issues found.
“I just want the election to be a trustworthy election,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt urged citizens to “reach out to the Legislature” to get the law changed.
Commissioner Gerald Matherly, who preciously had concerns regarding people voting from specific addresses, noted how Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes helped him work through his concerns. He noted how since there were “no proven black and white facts” to prove fraud, there was no real recourse against the state.
Holmes insisted the County Clerk’s Office “crossed every I and dotted every t.”
Commissioner Couy Griffin, the only dissenting vote to the canvass who attended via telephone since he was in Washington, D.C., said, “All we wanted to do was to look inside the machines,” adding, “we wanted to hand-count the ballots.”
Griffin was in court today to be sentenced for his participation in the rally at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, where Griffin led a crowd in prayer. He was convicted of trespassing, which resulted in 14 days in jail (time served), a $3,000 fine, 60 hours of community service, and a year of supervised release, according to CBS News.
“We really need to wake up to the overreach of the state government,” Griffin added. “If this is as far as our audit goes … it’s enough to prove how scared they are at the top.”
Marquardt reaffirmed that she could do “a lot more good in our seat[s]” fighting for the ranchers of the county and other issues than if Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would be allowed to replace the commissioners with her hand-picked replacements.
“We honestly don’t have a choice,” Marquardt said.
The final vote was 2-1, with Marquardt and Matherly voting to approve the canvass of the election while Griffin voted against certification. Watch the recording of the meeting here:
Following the certification meeting, Toulouse Oliver released the following statement:
“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. The voters of Otero County and the candidates who duly won their primaries can now rest assured that their voices have been heard and the General Election can proceed as planned.”