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By Walter Rubel
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Opinion: Attempts to ignore voting laws likely still coming


Last updated 7/2/2022 at 11:58am

Otero County Commissioner Gerald Matherly smells something fishy with the results of the recent primary election.

Matherly didn’t come right out and accuse the winners of cheating, but said he knew of at least one case where “ghost” ballots were returned from an address where the homeowner had died.

“I don’t even know if it’s one ballot, 10 ballots or 20 ballots,” he said. He also shares the concerns of fellow commissioners Couy Griffin and Vickie Marquardt that the Dominion voting machines used by the county to tabulate the votes can’t be trusted.

And so, Matherly was part of a unanimous vote by the commission to refuse to certify this clearly tainted election. Which seems odd, given that Matherly was one of the winners whose victory is being questioned.

He defeated Republican challenger Jeremiah Joseph Walters by a healthy margin — 899 to 470. Does he think that somewhere in Venezuela, employees of Dominion are secretly carrying out a plot devised years ago by Hugo Chavez to cheat Mr. Walters?

Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes tried repeatedly to convince commissioners that the voting machines do not have the connections needed to hook up to the internet, but they weren’t buying it. Marquardt said she has heard from people throughout the country who also know more about Otero County’s voting machines than the Republican clerk and her technicians.

Griffin, who was sentenced recently on a federal trespassing conviction for his involvement in the failed insurrection on Jan. 6, questioned why the county didn’t allow an audit of the machines. Holmes responded that the auditor selected by commissioners was picked without a competitive process and lacked not only certification as an auditor, but even a business license.

Any connection to the state, even a license to conduct business, would make the audit untrustworthy, Griffin insisted.

The meeting began with Matherly scolding Holmes for providing accurate information to the local newspaper as to how the certification process works. After several minutes of patient explanation, Matherly still could not grasp the concept that, yes, they really do need to certify the primary vote for there to be a general election in November.

Late in the meeting, someone asked commissioners the obvious question: You approved the results of the 2021 election conducted on the same voting machines; what’s changed?

We all know the answer to that question. In a desperate and dangerous attempt to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, Donald Trump and his supporters invented myriad conspiracy theories. One of those dubbed the craziest by former lapdog Attorney General William Barr was the notion that Dominion voting machines were hacked into and votes were switched from Trump to Biden.

Apparently, Democrats doing the hacking didn’t care enough about the House and Senate to switch those votes.

The tantrum ended predictably June 17 when the commission voted 2-1 to certify the results after being ordered to by the state Supreme Court. Griffin, who is more accustomed to jail than his two colleagues, cast the “no” vote.

I don’t normally pay much mind to our loony, attention-seeking neighbors, but I don’t think this is over. We should expect similar attempts to ignore state voting laws in the general election this fall.

Walter Rubel is the former opinion page editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News. He lives in Las Cruces, and can be reached at:

[email protected]


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