When it came time last week to put up or shut up, Otero County’s three commissioners had no cards to play.
They had no evidence of rigged Dominion vote-counting machines, no facts to validate concerns about state-mandated ballot drop boxes, nothing to merit a hand recount. Convicted Jan. 6 insurrectionist Couy Griffin conceded all they had was “intuition” and a “gut feeling.”
Faced with state investigations, potential removal from office and the threat of fines and criminal charges, commissioners finally certified the 2022 primary election results at an emergency meeting Friday, by a 2-1 vote.
Griffin, co-founder of Cowboys for Trump and apparent ringleader of right-wing conspiracies in Otero County, cast the lone “nay.” Thankfully, he’s not running for reelection and should have a diminished platform to waste the public’s time and money once he’s finally out of office.
The Otero County Commission had it backward. The time to question the accuracy of voting machines and processes is before an election, not after — unless a specific concern arises during voting, which it didn’t. Meanwhile, the County Clerk’s Office publicly tested machines in advance of the primary, as all county clerks in New Mexico do. Election results are randomly audited to verify levels of accuracy.
Yet the three Republicans initially voted not to certify county election results, offering no specific problems with the systems used by the county or anything else.
The state Supreme Court and then the Attorney General’s Office ordered them to certify election results ahead of a state deadline, and when the time came to show their cards, the commissioners folded like a pup tent.
The weeklong impasse was an embarrassment to New Mexico that generated national attention. It furthered the political divide, unnecessarily undercut confidence in elections, threatened to disenfranchise the 7,371 Otero County voters who cast ballots and potentially delayed official results of all races in Otero County, including highly competitive contests such as the GOP races for House 51, Division 2 seat on the 12th Judicial District Court and Division 1 magistrate judge seat and both GOP and Democratic races for County Commission District 2 (Griffin’s seat).
Otero voters should remember that when the other commission seats are on the ballot.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.