November 15, 2022

NMAG and SOS issue warning amid election misinformation campaigns

As New Mexico’s counties begin certifying vote totals in the 2022 Midterm election, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a joint statement on Nov. 15 that warned of possible disruptions to the election certification process during county commission meetings.

“This week, New Mexico’s county commissions are playing their vital role in the administration of our elections by performing their legal duties as the county canvassing boards in their respective counties,” the statement said. “The ‘canvass’ is the process of reconciling and confirming the accuracy of the election results and reporting those results to the county and then to the state. Under the law, these county boards support the county clerk in the canvass of the election and are mainly responsible for ensuring the timely certification of the county clerk’s report of canvass. These boards do not canvass the election and must follow statutory procedures.”

The offices of NMAG and SOS are aware of election conspiracy theorists that have attempted to undermine the state’s elections similar to what happened during the 2022 Primary Election canvass in Otero County.

On Tuesday, Otero County Commission unanimously voted to approve the canvass and certify the election at a special commission meeting.

“We are releasing this statement today to inform the public that the Attorney General’s office has a legal team ready to take action against any attempts to interfere with legal certification of the 2022 General Election,” the joint statement said. “The Secretary of State’s office has previously advised New Mexico’s county commissions about their legal duties regarding election certification and a copy of that guidance is included here. New Mexico voters deserve to have their voices heard in full and any attempt to silence those voters through manipulation of the election certification process will be met with swift legal action.”

If a county refuses to certify an election, a writ of mandamus is filed to get the commission to do it’s statutorily required duty of certifying the election, which was filed against Otero County in June.

Shortly after the writ of mandamus was filed, the Otero County Commission met to certify the election and did so on a 2-to-1 margin with removed Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin as the sole vote against.

Griffin was later removed from office and disqualified to hold further elected office on Sept 6 based on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment Disqualification Clause which states that elected officials may be removed from office for acts against the government such as insurrection.

Griffin was convicted of a misdemeanor after participating in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots which was labeled an insurrection by New Mexico State District Court Judge Francis Mathew.

Griffin was found guilty of the federal charge on March 22 and sentenced on June 17 to 14 days time served. He was ordered to pay $500 in restitution and was fined $3,000. Griffin was also sentenced to community service and one year of supervised release.