The Associated Press reports, County’s refusal to certify the vote hints at election chaos:
The conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines that erupted during the 2020 presidential contest flared this week in a remote New Mexico county in what could be just a preview of the kind of chaos election experts fear is coming in the fall midterms and in 2024.
The governing commission in Otero County refused to certify the local results of the state’s June 7 primary because of the equipment, in what was seen as another instance of how the falsehoods spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies have infected elections and threaten the democratic process.
“We are in scary territory,” said Jennifer Morrell, a former election official in Colorado and Utah who now advises federal, state and local officials. “If this can happen here, where next? It’s like a cancer, a virus. It’s metastasizing and growing.”
There is no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting equipment in the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Joe Biden. But that hasn’t stopped the false claims, particularly those about Dominion machines.
“I have huge concerns with these voting machines,” Otero County Commissioner Vickie Marquardt said Monday as she and her two fellow commissioners — all Republicans — voted unanimously. “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.”
The commissioners in the conservative, pro-Trump county could point to no actual problems with the Dominion equipment.
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On Monday, the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol presented testimony that Trump was told repeatedly that his claims of a stolen election and rigged voting systems were false and dangerous. That included pushback from his inner circle to the claims about Dominion voting systems, which are used by jurisdictions in 27 states.
Former Attorney General William Barr, in a videotaped interview with House investigators, said he spoke with Trump about the “idiotic claims” surrounding Dominion.
Barr said he found them to be “among the most disturbing allegations” because they were “made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people.” He added that the claims were doing a “grave disservice to the country.”
Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits against various Trump associates and conservative media organizations, including Fox News.
The company said in a statement Wednesday that the action by the Otero County commissioners was “yet another example of how lies about Dominion have damaged our company and diminished the public’s faith in elections.”
Otero County, with a population of about 67,000, went for Trump by nearly 62% in 2020. One of the commissioners is Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin, who was convicted of entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds — though not the building — during the Jan. 6 uprising.
That’s right, this traitorous insurrectionist election denier sits on an election commission even after being convicted of entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds on January 6. The conviction and his public comments should have resulted in his removal from office, certainly under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said the commissioners were violating the law and their oaths of office in refusing to certify the vote. She said that there is a process to deal with any problems that arise with an election but that the commissioners did not specify any.
“Unfortunately, when one county decides to act completely outside the law, it gives credence to others who may want to do the same thing,” she said. “We have the potential to see this spread and have a domino effect.”
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Election experts say the Otero County case is a warning of what could happen if candidates who repeat electoral falsehoods and misinformation gain responsibility for overseeing voting. [Especially here in Arizona, ground zero for the fraudulent Stop The Steal movement.]
“This is just a taste of what we could see in the future, as election deniers are running for positions with control over elections all over the country,” said David Becker, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney who leads the Center for Election Innovation and Research.
This Republican lawlessness by election deniers in the MAGA/QAnon cult forced New Mexico’s Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to ask the state Supreme Court to step in and order the county to certify the votes.
New Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a GOP county commission to certify primary election results after the panel refused to do so, citing concerns with voting machines.
Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon issued an order compelling the Otero County Commission to certify the results of its June 7 election by Friday.
The order came a day after New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, said the GOP-controlled commission was “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the primary.”
In a 19-page filing, Toulouse Oliver had asked that the state Supreme Court order the county commission to certify primary election results in Otero County, whose southern line is near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“At the meeting they identified no deficiency in the election results, but rather made unsubstantiated claims about the voting systems in use throughout the state,” Toulouse Oliver wrote.
Toulouse Oliver on Wednesday applauded the high court’s order.
“The voters and candidates of Otero County can now be assured that their voices will be heard in full,” she said in a statement. “Though it was sad to see the Commission give in to discredited conspiracy theories and try to halt the legal process of election certification, it’s encouraging to know that the rule of law prevailed and that the checks and balances in our system of government remain strong.”
The commission held a meeting Monday, in which members were presented with the election results by County Clerk Robyn Holmes and were supposed to certify them. Holmes “presented the results of the canvass, found no discrepancies in the results, and recommended approval to certify the canvass report,” Toulouse Oliver said.
But the commission decided against doing so. Instead, each member expressed concern with whether the results were accurate and whether the voting machines used could be trusted. They use machines made by Dominion, according to the Associated Press, which former President Donald Trump spread baseless theories about in order to push his claims of a stolen election in 2020.
“I have huge concerns with the voting machines,” said Commissioner Vickie Marquardt, in yet another instance where Republican officials have questioned the validity of election results. “I do not trust these machines.”
Marquardt added that she feels like she would be “dishonest” if she certified the election results because the commission didn’t have the ability to “thoroughly check these things out,” in reference to the machines. The clerk, however, repeatedly emphasized that the county goes through a process to ensure the machines are reliable and work properly.
“As this Petition makes clear, the Canvassing Board has failed to undertake its statutory duty to approve the canvass report and certify the election,” Toulouse Oliver said to the court.
The other two commission members, Gerald Matherly and Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, also expressed concerns about the voting machines.
“Let somebody else certify it,” Griffin said during the meeting after the clerk made it clear that if the commission refused to certify the results, then it would be resolved through the courts.
Paul Waldman of the Washington Post warns, The latest GOP primaries point to serious election chaos ahead:
We’re in primary season, which means that almost every Tuesday, a few new election deniers win the Republican nomination for seats from governor to senator to city councilperson. And what we’re seeing in the latest primaries is truly ominous for the future of democracy.
November’s election is going to bring chaos. And as bad as it will be, it’s only a taste of what’s to come in 2024. That election could be an outright cataclysm — potentially nothing less than the end of democracy as we have known it.
Consider the Nevada primaries that just concluded on Tuesday. Nevada is exactly the kind of swing state that could go to the opposition party in an off year, and the Republican Party there is now dominated by conspiracy theorists [just like the Arizona GQP.] Its nominee for Senate is Adam Laxalt, who insists that Donald Trump was the true winner in 2020 and has said that while fraud happens in cities where Democrats live, the vote in Republican areas is “legitimate.”
Even worse, the Republican nominee for secretary of state is right-wing extremist Jim Marchant. He got into the election denial business when he lost a race for U.S. House; he claimed it was stolen from him. Marchant’s website says his top priority will be overhauling Nevada’s “fraudulent” elections, and he has said he would not have certified Joe Biden’s 2020 win in the state.
Marchant is just one of many election deniers running for governor and secretary of state this year, including in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan. Almost inevitably, some of them are going to win.
The Washington Post further reports, More than 100 GOP primary winners back Trump’s false fraud claims:
About a third of the way through the 2022 primaries, voters have nominated scores of Republican candidates for state and federal office who say the 2020 election was rigged, according to a new analysis by The Washington Post.
District by district, state by state, voters in places that cast ballots through the end of May have chosen at least 108 candidates for statewide office or Congress who have repeated Trump’s lies. The number jumps to at least 149 winning candidates — out of more than 170 races — when it includes those who have campaigned on a platform of tightening voting rules or more stringently enforcing those already on the books, despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud.
The analysis offers a fresh portrait of the extent to which embracing Trump’s false claims has become part of a winning formula in this year’s GOP contests, and what it means for the immediate future of American democracy. The majority of the election-denying candidates who have secured their nominations are running in districts or states that lean Republican, according to Cook Political Report ratings, meaning they are likely to win the offices they are seeking.
Many will hold positions with the power to interfere in the outcomes of future contests — to block the certification of election results, to change the rules around the awarding of their states’ electoral votes or to acquiesce to litigation attempting to set aside the popular vote.
All up and down the line, we’re going to see efforts to disrupt election procedures and undo results. It will come from local officials such as those in Otero County. It will come from Trumpist partisans who have signed up to work as poll workers to secure the election for the GOP. It will come from a network of far-right sheriffs who have convinced themselves that they have the authority to seize voting machines and otherwise impede the casting and counting of votes.
And it will come from high-ranking Republicans who are outright enemies of democracy and keep winning primaries, like Laxalt and Marchand in Nevada.
Think about what election day 2022 will be like. We’ll see widespread intimidation of voters and election officials. We’ll see repetitions of the Otero County case, with uncertain outcomes. Many will wind up being determined by state supreme courts, but many of those are in Republican hands.
Meanwhile, many GOP state legislatures have moved to exert more power over elections. Some may decide to intervene and change the results if they don’t like the outcome. It will all be hyped into a frenzy by Fox News and other conservative media.
The result will be one place after another — towns, counties, maybe entire states — where the Republicans in charge say “Something fishy went on, we can’t say exactly what, but anyhow, we declare that the Republican candidates won.”
That will be just the warmup for 2024, when many more anti-democratic extremists now running will be in office, standing ready to make sure that Donald Trump becomes president again no matter what.
We shouldn’t forget that essentially the entire Republican Party, even those who admit Trump’s lies about 2020 are lies, have accepted that this is how their party will do business from now on. Who are the Republicans who believe their party can lose fair and square? Who are the Republicans who will condemn the electoral mayhem their comrades have planned?
If they’re out there, they’re keeping their mouths shut because they hope the same thing that the authoritarian extremists hope: that out of whatever nightmare they put the country through, they’ll be able to grasp and hold power.
It’s as though we live in a canyon vulnerable to flash floods and we all hear the rumble of an approaching deluge that could wipe away our town. From time to time we raise our heads and say, “Gee, that sounds ominous,” and then go back to what we were doing before. If you haven’t heard what’s coming, you might want to start listening.