New Mexico county official convicted of trespassing on Jan. 6 refuses to certify preliminary 2022 results based on debunked plot

“I don’t plan to step down,” Otero County Commissioner Koi Griffin said in a phone interview with CNN Thursday. “Why do we have a commission if we are overtaken by the court system?”

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday, acting on an emergency request from New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, ordered Otero County commissioners to certify preliminary results by Friday — the legal deadline for county certification. The commissioners refused to do so earlier in the week, citing a lack of confidence in the Dominion’s voting machines.

Commission Chairperson Vicki Marquardt and Commissioner Gerald Matherley did not respond to CNN’s inquiries, and it is not clear how they plan to vote.

Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, was found guilty in a bench trial in March for trespassing on US Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, while then-Vice President Mike Pence was there. He is due to be sentenced on Friday in Washington.

On Thursday, Griffin told CNN he was “not trying to overturn the election. We want transparency.”

“The more they tried to fight us and shut us down, the more skeptical I became,” he said.

Otero County is one of the first known communities to refuse to certify election results. The dispute in this Republican stronghold of about 68,000 people has raised concerns among voting rights experts that conspiracy theories about voting machines and other aspects of election management have taken root in some pockets of the country and could lead to more unrest this fall.

Commissioners expressed concerns about Dominion’s voting machines in refusing to certify the results at Monday’s meeting.

“I have major concerns about these voting machines,” Marquardt said at the time. “I really do. I just don’t think in my heart they can’t be manipulated.”

On Thursday, Oliver asked the state attorney general to investigate the commission over several recent actions.

In the referral to Attorney General Hector Balderas, a fellow Democrat, Oliver said Otero County commission members took “multiple illegal actions” this month — including refusing to certify the results of the June 7 primaries, ordering the removal of polling-drop boxes and voting to stop. on the use of vote counting machines.

“All county officials take an oath to respect the Constitution and the laws of the State of New Mexico,” Oliver said in a news release. “The commissioners of Otero County have violated the public trust and the laws of our state through their recent actions and they must be held accountable.”

Griffin was an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, and earlier this year he and other Otero commissioners authorized a third-party review of the district’s 2020 election results. They include a “scrutiny force” of volunteers who go door-to-door to question voters. Trump won the county by more than 25 points in 2020.
A US House of Representatives oversight committee has asked the Justice Department to investigate door-to-door voting operations in Otero County, citing potential voter intimidation.

In a statement released this week, a Dominion spokesperson described the Otero controversy as “another example of how lies about Dominion have damaged our company and undermined public confidence in the election.”

This story and title have been updated.

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