Officials in Otero County, New Mexico, voted to certify primary election results on Friday in compliance with a state Supreme Court order after refusing to do so, citing concerns about voting machines.
In a 2-1 vote, the Republican-led commission certified the county's results from its June 7 primary. One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said she voted to certify over fears of criminal charges and possible jail time.
“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.”
While there is no evidence of any problems with the voting process in this month's election, the commissioners have protested the use of equipment from Dominion Voting Systems, perpetuating conspiracy theories that came out of the 2020 election.
The three commissioners first refused to certify the primary results on Monday, citing debunked claims about Dominion voting machines. The following day, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver sought to compel the commission to certify, noting there was no evidence to back up claims questioning the accuracy, and on Wednesday the state Supreme Court ordered the panel to certify the results by Friday.
"We dodged a bullet here," Toulouse Oliver told NBC News on Friday night, adding that the state's laws and the court's action prevented "the system from completely breaking down."
She said the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, should consider more ways to protect elections from "rogue" officials.
"The reality is had the commission stuck to their guns today and defied a court order and defied the law, they would have ended up completely disenfranchising all of the voters who came out in their county and not seeing their candidates move on to the general election," she said. "We will need to take some sort of affirmative action to put an alternate process in place if necessary."
Otero County has about 67,000 residents and borders Texas.
Commissioner Couy Griffin spoke at the meeting by phone after appearing in Washington, D.C., earlier in the day for a sentencing hearing following his March conviction for trespassing at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. He was the lone vote against certification on Friday.
“All we wanted to do was look at the technology inside the Dominion machines to make sure they don’t have the modems in them, hooked up to the internet, and hand count the ballots,” Griffin said.
The Otero County commission previously authorized an Arizona-style partisan ballot review of the 2020 election, which included a door-to-door “audit force.” It triggered a March investigation by a congressional committee for potential violations of federal law.
In a statement Friday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said the investigation into such audits was “out of concern that they would undermine the integrity of our elections.”
The commissioners subsequent refusal to certify 2022 primary results is “the inevitable result of the Republican Party’s cynical embrace of the Big Lie,” Maloney said. “The Oversight Committee will continue to be laser focused on the threat that election lies pose to our democracy.”