Trump campaign drops election lawsuit nearly 70 days after election day

Donald Trump’s campaign dropped a lawsuit over the use of ballot drop boxes in New Mexico’s elections—part of the campaign’s nationwide, unsuccessful efforts to overturn election results after he lost his reelection bid. 

The campaign filed the lawsuit in mid-December, weeks after the election and after the state had certified its election results and the same day New Mexico’s electors cast their ballots for Democrat Joe Biden. The lawsuit centered on the legality of ballot dropboxes for absentee ballots, and echoed a lawsuit filed in state court by the party. The party withdrew that lawsuit ahead of the election after it said the party came to a “consensual resolution” with the Secretary of State. Like the other lawsuits, dozens of which the campaign had dismissed or lost, the lawsuit was aimed at overturning election results. But unlike in some states with relatively close margins of victory for Joe Biden, Trump lost the election in New Mexico by nearly 100,000 votes and over 11 percentage points.

Trump campaign files suit to overturn NM’s election results, even after they were certified and electoral votes were cast

After losing New Mexico by nearly 100,000 votes and over 11 percentage points, and the same day the state voted to cast its electoral votes for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Donald Trump campaign filed a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate thousands of votes and asked a federal judge to overturn the state’s election results. The Secretary of State’s office said they had not yet been served with the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon, which was 41 days after the election, but a spokesman for Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Alex Curtas said, “We look forward to its swift dismissal.” 

The lawsuit is one of a series of dozens of legal actions that have failed to overturn any election results. In fact, on Monday, enough states cast electoral votes for Biden to secure the victory, the same result that has been clear for weeks. Some judges have tossed out lawsuits by Trump’s campaign and his allies for not filing the claims in a timely fashion. This lawsuit targets drop off boxes, which the campaign claims were illegally in place.

It’s official: NM casts electoral votes for Biden

New Mexico’s five electoral votes formally were cast for Joe Biden on Monday. The five electors, all wearing masks, gathered for the socially distanced occasion in Room 307 in the Roundhouse, on Monday morning. The votes that take place in every state across the country are typically an unnoticed event every four years. But with incumbent President Donald Trump refusing to concede to Biden, the Democratic former vice president, and losing dozens of legal challenges seeking to overturn results in various states, there was increased attention on the formality. The official, certified election results in New Mexico found that Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris easily won the state, defeating Trump and running mate Mike Pence by nearly 100,000 votes: a 54.29 percent to 43.5 percent margin of the over 923,000 votes cast in the presidential race.

NM certifies election results, including Biden’s win in the state

On Tuesday, the New Mexico canvassing board certified the general election results from earlier this month, making the winners of races—including the presidential race—official, except for some races that require recounts. The state canvassing board—a three-person panel with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Vigil—met in the Roundhouse on Tuesday. All counties had already certified election results. And last week, the state began its legally mandated process of auditing random precincts with hand recounts to ensure vote counts were accurate. In all, 928,230 voters cast ballots, for 68.67 percent voter turnout of the state’s 1.3 million registered voters.

Republicans try to cast doubt on NM presidential results after Biden won by 11 points

Less than a week before New Mexico certifies its election results, President Donald Trump’s political team said there are allegations of voter fraud in the state, even as the state’s post-election process to verify and audit results moved forward. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made the allegations as part of a rambling press conference on Thursday that contradicted some arguments the Trump campaign has made in courts. The Trump campaign has consistently lost their cases as they attempt to overturn election results in states where the Republican lost, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. “And the state that we’re looking at that would surprise you, we’re seeing very, very significant amount of fraud allegations in the state of New Mexico,” Giuliani claimed. A spokesman for the Secretary of State said elections in New Mexico were secure.

Tension among Democrats over pro tem race

The alleged involvement of a progressive political group in the race for state Senate president pro tem seems to be causing some consternation among some New Mexico Senate Democrats.   

According to sources familiar with the Senate Democratic Caucus, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, announced during a recent caucus meeting that he was approached by an unnamed political group that offered something in exchange if Cervantes voted for the groups choice for pro tem. 

Sources NM Political Report spoke with, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, said Cervantes did not specify what was offered or which political group offered it. 

Cervantes declined to discuss the matter, but did not deny that it happened. 

“I think it’s important that I work through the channels and the process we have for ethics issues,” Cervantes said. “So I’d tell you that I wouldn’t talk with you about that publicly until the appropriate time to do so.”

When asked which authority he reported the possible incident to, Cervantes didn’t give any more details. 

“I have spoken with individuals in a confidential way and in the appropriate way that we have for reporting things of concern,” he said. 

The pro tem position is voted on by the full Senate, but Democrats will have a 27-15 majority when the next legislative session begins in January. 

One source said several caucus members have been approached by representatives from the New Mexico Working Families Party to discuss potential legislation, with the conversation quickly turning to the pro tem race. 

Working Families state director and former state senator Eric Griego called the notion that his group would try to drum up votes with a bribe “absurd.”

“First of all, we’ve not talked to Senator Cervantes at all,” Griego said. 

Griego said his group has been meeting with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to discuss legislation and that occasionally the pro tem race comes up in conversation. But, he said, his group has only offered up their list of preferred Senators in those conversations and that the implication of quid pro quo is “super libelous.”

“It’s patently false, we just don’t work that way,” Griego said. 

The Working Families Party is a national organization that operates as both a political party in some states and also as a political advocacy group. 

Griego said the local chapter worked hard this year to oust what the group calls “corporate champions.” The group endorsed a list of candidates this year and helped get moderate Democrats out of office during the primary. Griego said his group wanted to follow through with that effort.    

“We worked our butts off to elect good people, both in the primary and the general,” Griego said. “And we’re not just going to hope that it turns out ok, in terms of leadership.

Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States; New Mexico reacts

The Associated Press and other media outlets projected Saturday morning that former Vice President Joe Biden won enough electoral votes to win the presidency. The Associated Press called the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and its 20 electoral votes, for Biden at 11:25 am. EST. 

Biden is scheduled to speak Saturday night. President Donald Trump did not concede the race on Saturday, and instead promised to pursue unspecified legal remedies. Trump said the race is “far from over” in a statement.

NM had record absentee votes, total turnout, but elections ran smoothly

As election vote counts drag on for days in some other areas of the country, New Mexico will finish its vote counting by Wednesday. This is despite not only record-breaking overall turnout, but also record-shattering voting by absentee ballot. It all took part with the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, necessitating special procedures for elections. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told NM Political Report that Election Day largely went smoothly, with just “pedestrian, every election” problems that crop up, “nothing on a wide scale or systemic level.”

But the quick vote was a contrast compared to past elections in parts of the state, both the 2018 general election and this June’s primary elections. One example was Doña Ana County.

Voters say yes to proposed constitutional amendment to reorganize the PRC

Voters appear to have approved a constitutional amendment proposal that would make sweeping changes to the state’s Public Regulation Commission. Constitutional amendment ballot initiative #1 would reduce the number of commissioners on the state’s Public Regulation Commission from five to three and would make those positions appointed by the governor rather than elected by voters. 

The amendment received 436,760 votes at the end of the night, representing 55 percent of total votes counted, while 351,208 voters, representing 45 percent of the vote counted so far, opted against the amendment. These totals are likely to change in the coming days as more absentee and provisional ballots are counted. Commissioners Jeff Byrd, Theresa Becenti-Aquilar, Valerie Espinoza and chairman Steve Fischmann opposed the amendment; while commissioner Cynthia Hall supported the amendment. 

The amendment was the result of a joint resolution that passed the state Legislature in 2019. In New Mexico, voters must approve any alteration to the state’s constitution.

Ben Ray Luján wins U.S. Senate race

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján will soon move across the Capitol Building and become a U.S senator. 

The unofficial results as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, showed Luján with a five point lead in the U.S. Senate race against Republcian Mark Ronchetti, a former T.V. meteorologist. 

Just after the Associated Press called the race for Luján, he accepted the win in an online speech. 

“People here in New Mexico spoke loud and clear,” Lujan said.