Democracy Rundown: Standing Guard in New Mexico
New Mexico has one of the most secure, accessible voting systems in the United States, but threats to our democracy, free and fair elections, and efforts to break public trust have made their way to the Land of Enchantment. Common Cause New Mexico has been standing guard and defending our democracy against such threats.
After one of the more eventful summers in the books, here’s what you need to know about the state of our democracy in New Mexico and how Common Cause is making a difference:
In Otero County, the county commission refused to certify the results of the June primary election at the urging of conspiracy theorists. The commissioners’ refusal was not based on any factual evidence of fraud or error, but on disinformation-based fears that have been widely debunked. Leading the charge of this effort was convicted January 6 insurrectionist Couy Griffin, who also served as an Otero County commissioner.
Griffin admitted his false claims about the election were based on “gut feelings” — feelings, not actual proof or evidence. These false claims have also been thoroughly refuted by data on local elections presented by the Otero County Clerk, which show the local election was free, fair, and accurate. Facing a court order from the attorney general to certify the election, the commission finally did so in July. Still, Commissioner Griffin voted against the certification and continued to spread lies about the recent local election and the 2020 national election.
All county officials take an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitution and laws of the state of New Mexico. Otero County commissioners violated that oath by attempting to invalidate the 2022 primary election, failing to respect the will of their constituents. Holding the Otero County commissioners accountable to the voters was a crucial step in ensuring our state’s elections remain free, fair, and reflective of what New Mexicans want — so that’s exactly what we did.
Common Cause New Mexico quickly filed an amicus brief in support of the successful case that sought to bar Griffin from political office based on Section 3 of the 14th amendment. The 14th amendment prevents public officials who violate their oath to uphold the constitution by inciting insurrection from holding office.
In a historic move, a Santa Fe court ruled Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin be removed from office for his role in the January 6 insurrection. The ruling, which came after a two-day bench trial in August, also prevents him from running for office in the future. Griffin is the first public official who has been ordered to be removed from office under the 14th Amendment since 1869, and the first January 6 insurrectionist to be held accountable in this way.
Despite the successful ruling against Griffin, the dangerous antics of the Otero County commission continue in his absence. In defiance of its own attorney and county clerk, the Otero County Commission announced it is suing New Mexico’s secretary of state for forcing the entity to follow state law and canvas the election. The county also wants to further restrict drop boxes and other pro-voter measures designed to boost turnout. This case is currently pending and we will closely monitor any updates.
Over the past 15 years, Common Cause and numerous secretaries of state and legislators have created one of the safest and most accessible voting systems in the country, with paper ballots to check for accuracy, convenience centers, and early voting to allow access in rural parts of the state. New Mexico elections are safe, secure, and will remain so.
On top of these successes, there’s even more to celebrate! Just in time for election season, Common Cause New Mexico named Mario Jimenez III our new executive director. Prior to joining Common Cause as the campaign director, Mario served as Doña Ana County’s chief deputy clerk for six years, served on the state’s Voting Machine Certification Committee, and worked as a certified voting machine technician. With the expertise and experience perfectly suited to meet this moment, Mario is leading Common Cause New Mexico into our strongest season of election protection work yet.
Heather Ferguson, CCNM executive director since 2018, was named to a national position at Common Cause and will continue helping us build a democracy that works for all New Mexicans.
If you’d like to join us on the front lines protecting our democracy, visit protectthevote.net.
To read our full amicus brief, click here.
To read the full ruling against Griffin, click here.