NM Supreme Court denies GOP election petition - Albuquerque Journal

NM Supreme Court denies GOP election petition

In this file photo, Christoper Nalls ensures his ballot made it into the official drop box outside the City/County Building in Downtown Albuquerque. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected a Republican-backed election lawsuit, even as the GOP moved forward with a second court challenge over absentee ballot protocols.

With state election officials pushing early voting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voting via absentee ballot has already hit unprecedented levels across New Mexico.

A total of 265,739 absentee ballots had been cast statewide as of Tuesday morning – or about 44.8% of the roughly 593,000 votes cast in all.

That deluge of absentee ballots has prompted lawsuits even before vote counting begins, especially since the state’s laws regarding absentee voting procedures were updated in 2019 and earlier this year.

The petition denied Tuesday by three Supreme Court justices – the court’s two remaining justices had recused themselves – sought to guarantee that poll watchers could observe the initial verification of absentee ballots.

The Supreme Court denied the petition shortly after accepting written filings from both sides in the case. It did not provide an explanation for its ruling.

Alex Curtas, a spokesman for Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, said the decision “reaffirmed the legally sound processes and procedures being followed by the state’s election administrators when processing absentee ballots.”

But the state GOP said in a statement the Supreme Court’s ruling was politically motivated and disappointing.

Meanwhile, the other Republican Party lawsuit targets absentee ballot drop box protocols in two largely Democratic counties: Taos and Guadalupe.

In its 23-page lawsuit filed in Santa Fe-based 1st Judicial District Court, the Republican Party said it had evidence of ballot drop boxes being left unattended in Guadalupe County.

The GOP also alleged that a ballot drop box outside the Taos County courthouse has not been regularly monitored by poll workers.

While not providing any proof of it actually happening, the Republican Party said such practices leave open the possibility of ballots being stolen, damaged or destroyed – or that large amounts of improperly harvested ballots could be dropped off undetected.

Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said the ballot-box suit is aimed at ensuring election officials follow the law and protect voters’ ballots as they’re required to.

“We’re just wanting a fair election,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

Under a 2019 state law, the drop boxes – or secured containers – can be installed outside traditional polling places, although county clerks are required to publicly disclose such locations in advance and adhere to strict security guidelines.

In a September memo to county clerks, the Secretary of State’s Office said county clerks should, at a minimum, have drop boxes available at every voting location.

The memo also stipulates minimum requirements for securing drop boxes, including constant supervision by at least two county staffers or election workers and daily ballot removal.

The Guadalupe and Taos County clerks could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, but the Secretary of State’s Office said county clerks are expected to follow the established security standards.

Journal capitol bureau reporter Dan McKay contributed to this report.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Free throws no longer a weapon for Lobo men
ABQnews Seeker
The Lobos have gone from national ... The Lobos have gone from national leaders at getting to the free throw line to well below the national average and can no longer ...
Parker out as NMSU provost; search for replacement launched
ABQnews Seeker
Carol Parker is out as New ... Carol Parker is out as New Mexico State University provost two months after being placed on paid administrative leave. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu disclosed ...
United Way to serve as literacy resource
ABQnews Seeker
211 service is a free connection, ... 211 service is a free connection, referral to information
Rep. supports UNM graduate workers' organizing for collective bargaining ...
ABQnews Seeker
University is fighting a labor board ... University is fighting a labor board ruling that recognized the union
Proposal to curb governor's emergency powers stymied again
ABQnews Seeker
A renewed attempt to limit the ... A renewed attempt to limit the emergency powers of New Mexico's governor stalled Wednesday in a House committee. The proposal, House Joint Resolution 3, ...
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths all up in NM
ABQnews Seeker
Congresswoman one of many to test ... Congresswoman one of many to test positive for COVID-19
Charges lodged in shooting at apartment party around Halloween
ABQnews Seeker
Victim was shot in the face ... Victim was shot in the face but survived
Five charged in Albuquerque drug theft plot that left ...
ABQnews Seeker
'I'll never be the same,' says ... 'I'll never be the same,' says father of slain 19-year-old
Supreme Court: Former sheriff can resume his role as ...
ABQnews Seeker
Torrance County jurist had been suspended ... Torrance County jurist had been suspended over AG's felony allegations