SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico’s top elections official is urging a federal court to dismiss a challenge by President Donald Trump of absentee voting procedures for ballot drop boxes. She also wants Trump’s campaign to be sanctioned for pursuing meritless litigation.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says the mid-December lawsuit by Trump’s reelection campaign is among the most outrageous in a “raft of meritless election challenges across the country.” President-elect Joe Biden won the vote in New Mexico by about 11 percentage points.

The response from Toulouse Oliver comes with Congress scheduled Wednesday to hold a join session to count electoral votes. The usually routine step in the path toward inauguration could drag on as some Republicans plan to challenge Biden’s victory in at least six states.

In New Mexico, Trump’s reelection campaign says state election regulators went beyond the Legislature’s emergency pandemic-related election reforms in issuing guidelines for ballot drop boxes.

The Trump campaign later added allegations of inaccuracies involving vote-counting equipment sold by Dominion Voting Systems — allegations that have been rejected as without evidence by the federal agency overseeing election security.

Toulouse Oliver urged the court to sanction the Trump campaign and its attorneys for filing a meritless lawsuit. She notes that concerns from the state Republican Party about drop box oversight in two new Mexico counties were resolved in October in state district court.

Despite all their defeats in court, Republicans prepared an unprecedented congressional challenge on Wednesday to Joe Biden’s election win, citing Trump’s repeated, baseless charges of widespread fraud.

Newly elected U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico said he expects the challenge from Trump allies to “fail in a bipartisan way.”

“Democratic and Republican U.S. senators and U.S. House members will count the votes and President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Luján told The Associated Press.

Luján said he wants to improve confidence in elections by strengthening the Voting Rights Act. As a congressman, he voted with the Democratic House majority for a bill that would essentially reverse a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the act’s federal oversight provisions as unconstitutional.


Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed from Albuquerque.

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