August 16, 2022

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The county’s refusal to verify the vote factors to election chaos

ATLANTA — Conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines erupting in the course of the 2020 presidential marketing campaign flared up in a distant New Mexico county this week in what could possibly be only a preview of the sort of chaos election specialists concern for the autumn and 2024 midterm elections.

The Otero County authorities fee refused to verify native outcomes for the June 7 state main due to the tools, in what was seen as one other instance of how falsehoods propagated by former President Donald Trump and his allies are infecting elections and the Democrats have threatened course of.

“We’re in scary territory,” mentioned Jennifer Morrell, a former election employee in Colorado and Utah who now advises federal, state and native officers. “If this could occur right here, then the place? It’s like a most cancers, a virus. It metastasizes and grows.”

There isn’t a proof of widespread fraud or voting machine tampering within the 2020 election, which Trump misplaced to Joe Biden. However that hasn’t stopped the false claims, notably these about Dominion machines.


“I’ve numerous considerations about these voting machines,” Otero County commissioner Vickie Marquardt mentioned Monday as she and her two fellow commissioners — all Republicans — voted unanimously. “Once I affirm issues that I don’t know are proper, I really feel like I’m being dishonest as a result of in my coronary heart I don’t know in the event that they’re proper.”

The commissioners within the conservative, Trump-friendly county might level to no precise issues with the Dominion’s tools.

The New Mexico Secretary of State requested the state Supreme Courtroom to step in and order the district to uphold the votes, and the Supreme Courtroom did so on Wednesday. That will make sure that the almost 7,400 ballots solid in Otero County could be registered as authorized votes. The deadline for district certification is Friday.

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Within the weeks and months after the election, numerous Trump allies claimed that Dominion’s voting techniques had in some way been tampered with as a part of an elaborate plot to steal the election.


On Monday, the Home panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol testified that Trump had been repeatedly instructed his claims a couple of stolen election and rigged electoral techniques had been false and harmful. This included his internal circle’s opposition to claims about Dominion voting techniques utilized by jurisdictions in 27 states.

Former Legal professional Common William Barr mentioned in a videotaped interview with Home investigators that he spoke to Trump concerning the “idiotic claims” surrounding Dominion.

Barr mentioned he discovered them “among the many most annoying allegations” as a result of they had been “made in such a sensational approach that they clearly affected lots of people.” ”

Trump ignored this and his allies insisted on attacking Dominion. Based on the Home panel, the day after Barr spoke to Trump, the President launched a video during which he claimed with out proof that “with the flip of a dial or a chip change, a button may be pressed for Trump and the vote.” goes to Biden.”


Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits in opposition to numerous Trump associates and conservative media organizations, together with Fox Information.

The corporate mentioned in an announcement Wednesday that the motion by the Otero County commissioners was “one other instance of how mendacity about Dominion has broken our firm and lowered public confidence in elections.”

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Otero County, with a inhabitants of about 67,000, voted almost 62% for Trump in 2020. One of many commissioners is Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin, who was convicted for coming into the restricted grounds of the US Capitol — although not the constructing itself — in the course of the Jan. 6 riot.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver mentioned the commissioners violated the regulation and their oath of workplace by refusing to verify the vote. She mentioned there’s a course of to take care of any points that come up in an election, however the commissioners haven’t specified any.


“Sadly, when one county decides to behave utterly outdoors of the regulation, it offers different faiths who might wish to do the identical,” she mentioned. “Now we have the potential for this to unfold and have a domino impact.”

Quite a few procedures are in place, together with pre- and post-testing of voting machines and post-election testing, to make sure the machines are working correctly. In New Mexico, voters mark their paper ballots by hand. The ballots are then fed right into a scanner to judge the outcomes.

As with all know-how, there are vulnerabilities, however election officers are working to establish and repair them. A latest advisory issued by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Company highlighted sure vulnerabilities found in Dominion voting techniques and made suggestions to voting officers.

However those that make false claims about voting techniques need extra than simply hand-cast ballots — additionally they need ballots to be counted totally by hand. Consultants say that given the varied protections, that is unreliable, time-consuming, labor-intensive and fully pointless.

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Probably the most outstanding advocates for that is Jim Marchant, a former state legislature who was chosen Tuesday because the Republican nominee for secretary of state in Nevada. Marchant is amongst a bunch of “America First” candidates making an attempt to watch elections whereas denying the result of the final one.

Election specialists say the Otero County case is a warning of what might occur if candidates who repeat vote fraud and misinformation take duty for overseeing the vote.

“That is only a style of what we might see going ahead as election deniers run for positions of management over elections throughout the nation,” mentioned David Becker, a former U.S. Division of Justice legal professional who heads the Heart for Election Innovation and Analysis .

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