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2012 elections still contentious

Even as a new primary and general election season gets underway, a lawsuit stemming from disgruntlement over voting conditions in 2012 was until recently calling for voters to have another chance to decide those contests.

Pat Rogers, the attorney representing Republicans who lost to Democrats in Sandoval County, now intends to drop his clients’ request for new elections to decide the outcome of the State Senate District 9 and Sandoval County Clerk’s races in the 2012 general election. However, he said he intends to proceed with other aspects of the case to ensure that the type of voting debacle that occurred in Rio Rancho in November 2012 can’t happen again.

Rogers originally sued in District Court immediately after the general election on behalf of candidates David Doyle and Paula Papponi, and Rio Rancho voter Teresa Fleming, asking for the election results to be overturned. The lawsuit claimed a new voting center arrangement organized by former county clerk Sally Padilla and Bureau of Elections Director Eddie Gutierrez led to long lines and voter frustration in Republican-leaning Rio Rancho.

It maintained the situation deprived Rio Rancho voters of their right to vote, leading to Doyle’s election loss to Democrat John Sapien in Senate District 9 and Papponi’s loss to Eileen Garbagni in the county clerk race.

Republican probate judge candidate Lawrence McClain, who lost to Democrat Charles Aguilar, was originally part of the case but later removed. McClain and Aguilar will face each other again in November seeking the probate judge position.

In December 2012, Rogers dropped the request to have the election results overturned, voluntarily dismissed the case from state court and filed it in federal court in March last year.

The federal case reiterated the original claims and asked the court to order Garbagni, Padilla’s successor and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to hold new elections.

Garbagni was a nominal defendant because she now has Padilla’s position. Oliver was also a nominal defendant because one District 9 precinct is in Bernalillo County and she would be involved in any new election. Secretary of State Dianna Duran and the Sandoval County Commission are also included as defendants.