A Republican-controlled county commission in New Mexico that refused to recognize election returns this month after citing unfounded conspiracy theories about voting machines bowed to legal pressure on Friday and certified the results.
Otero County commissioners voted 2-1 to certify the county’s June 7 primary election results, but only after the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered them to do so and after threats of legal action by the state’s Democratic attorney general.
The commissioner who still voted against certifying the results, Couy Griffin, did so hours after being sentenced for breaching the U.S. Capitol during the January 6, 2021, riot.
Griffin, an election-fraud conspiracist and founder of “Cowboys for Trump,” avoided jail time, was fined $3,000 and was given one year of supervised release with the requirement that he complete 60 hours of community service.
Former Republican President Donald Trump has continued to push falsehoods that Democratic President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election. Many Republicans believe Trump even after revelations in a congressional hearing this month that the former president’s own daughter and other close allies rejected the falsehoods.
There are fears of more election turmoil ahead because of the hold that unfounded conspiracy theories about voting machines and vote counts now have on many Republican lawmakers and grassroots Republican voters.
Otero County’s initial move not to certify its votes comes ahead of the November midterm elections that will decide control of the U.S. Congress, with both chambers now narrowly held by Democrats, as well as the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump has indicated he could seek a second White House term.
U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 House of Representatives Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the deadly January 6 attack, said Otero’s initial refusal to certify was a worrying harbinger of election turmoil ahead.
“Wake up America and GOP, this will destroy us,” Kinzinger, a member of the congressional commission investigating the January 6 attack, tweeted on Wednesday.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who had previously said the county commission was acting illegally, expressed relief that the elections results had been certified.
“The voters of Otero County and the candidates who duly won their primaries can now rest assured that their voices have been heard and the general election can proceed as planned,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement.