State GOP says election tarnished democracy, faces criticism

Politics - Government

Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Steve Pearce, left, stands alongside GOP candidates for the state House and Senate on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at a press conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Republicans introduced Wednesday a diverse slate of candidates they hope will flip the Democratic-controlled New Mexico House amid rural angry over a new red-flag gun law and uncertainty over oil prices. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said Thursday that democracy has been tarnished by unanswered questions about the 2020 vote count. But he stopped just short of repeating President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Pearce said in a statement that the state Republican Party recognizes Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory but has many unanswered questions about the vote count, voting machines and drop boxes for absentee ballots.

It echoes objections to New Mexico’s voting procedures raised by Trump in a lawsuit filed in Albuquerque. State election officials say the lawsuit is meritless and includes disproven testimony.

“Election integrity has been paramount, but there have been anomalies and issues that were never addressed that should have been,” Pearce said. “To this end, our democracy has been tarnished.”

All the states have certified their election results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike. Biden won the New Mexico vote by nearly 11 percentage points.

Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said New Mexico’s election was independently audited and that Pearce and the Republican Party “should be ashamed of themselves for continuing false narratives.”

New Mexico’s sole Republican delegate to Congress, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, used her first speech to the House to challenge the certification. She objected to the electoral vote in several states, including Pennsylvania, citing changes there to vote-by-mail deadlines and identification rules.

The group Common Cause New Mexico urged Herrell to resign, saying she has spread disinformation and sowed distrust in democracy.

In New Mexico, the state GOP successfully sued last year to ensure absentee ballots are distributed by request only and resolved a lawsuit before Election Day about absentee ballot drop boxes. The party sued in December to impound and later inspect absentee ballots for Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque.

Congress finished certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory early Thursday, hours after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. It came after Trump repeated his baseless claims of election fraud to thousands of demonstrators he invited to Washington.

Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin was among those assembled on the steps to the U.S. Capitol. He posted a video on Facebook that shows him reveling in the crowd.

“Anything to get our country back, amen, brother,” Griffin said.

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