By Fredreka Schouten, CNN
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Thursday asked the state’s attorney general to investigate a GOP-led county commission that refused to certify the results of a recent primary election.
In the referral to Attorney General Hector Balderas, a fellow Democrat, Oliver said members of the Otero County Commission have taken “multiple unlawful actions” this month — including declining to certify the results of the June 7 primary, ordering the removal of ballot-drop boxes and voting to discontinue to the use of vote-tallying machines.
“All county officials take an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of New Mexico,” Oliver said in a news release. “The Commissioners in Otero County have violated the public’s trust and our state laws through their recent actions and must be held accountable.”
Otero County is one of the first known communities to balk at certifying election results. The flare-up in this rural New Mexico county has sparked fears among voting rights experts that conspiracy theories about voting machines and other aspects of election administration have taken deep root in some pockets of the country and could lead to further disruptions this fall.
The State Supreme Court on Wednesday, acting on an emergency request from Oliver, ordered the Otero County commissioners to certify the primary results by Friday — the statutory deadline for county certification.
The commission has added a Friday emergency meeting to take up the certification.
Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt has not responded to CNN’s inquiries.
But fellow commissioner Couy Griffin told CNN on Thursday that he did not intend to comply with the state Supreme Court order and would not vote to certify the results.
“I’m not planning to move off my position,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “Why have a commission if we just get overridden by the court system?”
Griffin, a founder for Cowboys for Trump, was found guilty in a March bench trial of trespassing on US Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, while then-Vice President Mike Pence was there. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Washington.
Griffin, Marquardt and Commissioner Gerald Matherly cited their distrust of Dominion voting machines in refusing to certify the results at a Monday meeting of the Otero County Commission.
“I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” Marquardt said during that meeting. “I really do. I just don’t think in my heart that they can’t be manipulated.”
On Thursday, Griffin told CNN that he’s “not trying to overturn an election. We want transparency.”
“The more they try to fight us and shut us down,” he said, “the more of a skeptic I will become.”
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