Today's Paper Latest Primary runoff results Voter guide Sports Core Values Newsletters Weather Obits Puzzles Archive Story ideas iPad
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

New Mexico vote ado comes to an end

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | June 18, 2022 at 9:38 a.m.
Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters as he arrives at the federal court in Washington, Friday, June. 17, 2022. Griffin, who is a central figure in a New Mexico county’s refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Commissioners in a New Mexico county have certified the results from their primary election after spurring a standoff over election integrity that was fueled by conspiracy theories about the security of voting equipment.

The Otero County commissioners earlier had refused to certify the results, prompting the state's top election official to seek court intervention. Commissioner Couy Griffin, who founded the political group Cowboys for Trump, was a central figure in the county's refusal.

Griffin claimed the commission "found major discrepancies" in an election audit. He didn't elaborate but said, "That's all we want, is transparency and truth."

Commissioners opted 2-1 to certify during an emergency meeting as New Mexico counties faced a deadline Friday for certification of the vote. The two who voted to certify said they had no choice under state law and could be only a rubber stamp.

The commissioners also acknowledged an order by the state Supreme Court and subsequent threats of legal action by the Democratic state attorney general.

While there has been no evidence of fraud, the actions by the commission in rural Otero County had threatened to disenfranchise more than 7,300 voters in the politically conservative area of southern New Mexico.

New Mexico's primary ballot included races at all levels -- including Congress, governor, attorney general and a long list of local offices. Those races would not have been official until all counties are certified.

"We note that the commission admitted that they did not have any facts to support not certifying the election results," said New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver after the vote. "It's unfortunate that we had to take action to make sure Otero County voters were not disenfranchised."

SHORT SENTENCE

Meanwhile, Griffin avoided more jail time on Friday for joining the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol.

He was sentenced to 14 days in prison. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden gave Griffin credit for the 20 days he already served in jail after his arrest.

Federal prosecutors and a probation officer had recommended a sentence of three months imprisonment. Griffin faced a maximum prison sentence of one year for his misdemeanor conviction.

After a trial without a jury, McFadden convicted Griffin in March of entering a restricted area outside the Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, but acquitted him of a disorderly conduct charge. Griffin didn't go into the building itself and wasn't accused of engaging in any violence or destruction.

McFadden, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, also ordered Griffin to pay a $3,000 fine and $500 in restitution and perform 60 hours of community service.

During the riot, Griffin shouted his unsubstantiated belief that the election was stolen from Trump, climbed a toppled fence and another barrier to access the Capitol steps and used a bullhorn to lead the throngs in prayer.

Griffin told McFadden that he only went to the Capitol to pray with others.

"I'm not convinced, even a little bit," the judge said.

Prosecutors said Griffin has shown a lack of contrition for his actions during the attack. Griffin bragged at a county commission meeting about violating orders from police to stay out of the restricted area, has spread conspiracy theories about what happened Jan. 6 and has made social media posts that questioned the conclusions of the judge overseeing his case, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Nicholas Smith maintained Griffin is remorseful and believes he received a fair trial. But the judge said Griffin's lack of contrition and apparent disdain for the criminal justice system is "very concerning."

Griffin is one of the few riot defendants who isn't accused of entering the Capitol building or engaging in any violent or destructive behavior.

More than 800 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. Over 300 of them have pleaded guilty and nearly 200 have been sentenced.

Information for this article was contributed by Susan Montoya Bryan, Morgan Lee, Christina Almeida Cassidy, Scott Sonner, Terry Tang, Michael Kunzelman and Jacques Billeaud of The Associated Press.

  photo  FILE - Otero County, N.M., Commissioner Couy Griffin stands outside the federal court after receiving a verdict in his trial on March 22, 2022 in Washington. New Mexico’s secretary of state asked the state's Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, to order the Republican-led commission of rural Otero County to certify primary election results after it refused to do so over distrust of Dominion vote-tallying machines. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
 
 
  photo  Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters as he arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, June. 17, 2022. Griffin, who is a central figure in a New Mexico county’s refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
 
 
  photo  Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin speaks to reporters as he arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, June. 17, 2022. Griffin, who is a central figure in a New Mexico county’s refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. He was sentenced to 14 days behind bars, which he has already served. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
 
 


Print Headline: N.M. vote ado comes to an end

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT