Category: Editorials Editorials
Published: 09 June 2022 09 June 2022

According to this person's observations, multiple election law violations took place in Grant County during the 2020 General Election.

Here are the observations by an appointed poll worker and later appointed recount challenger:

The 2020 General Election in Grant County also violated numerous other Election Laws, including:

• I observed that there were no video surveillance cameras at the Bayard Community Center Early Voting Polling Location, as required by NM Statute Chapter 1. Elections 1-6-9. Mailed ballots; manner of voting; delivery methods. E. 3) all secured containers shall be monitored by video surveillance cameras and the video recorded by that system shall be retained by the county clerk as a record related to voting pursuant to the provisions of Section 1-12-69NMSA 1978. The Absentee Ballot Box placed at the Clerk's Office during Early Voting also did not have a working camera.2.Spoiled Ballots were not marked 'Spoiled' by the voter at the Early Voting Poll at Bayard or the Administration Center for approximately the first week of early voting. This is required by NM Statutes Chapter 1-Elections 1-12-62 D. Paper ballots; spoiled or defaced. "D. The voter shall mark the spoiled or erroneously prepared paper ballot with the word 'SPOILED' and shall place it in a separate envelope marked 'SPOILED BALLOTS,' which shall be returned to the county clerk."

• There was only one Republican along with four Democrats working at Bayard Early Voting Center for three and a half days from October 17 through mid-afternoon October 22. This is a violation of NM Statute Chapter 1. Elections 1-2-12. Election board; positions on each board. "The county clerk shall appoint presiding judges and election judges so that not more than two of the three judges belong to the same political party at the time of their appointment...."

• If the Computers and Dominion vote tabulation machines are not connected to the Internet, why were my husband and I told that the tabulating machine had to be located near the door at the Fairgrounds building voting location at Cliff, because that was the only place in the building where there was Internet reception? 

 • I was appointed to serve as a Republican poll challenger at the Perkins/Foy Judge District 6 State Required Recount. I presented my Challenger Authorization papers on December 1 and December 2, 2020, to Marisa Castrillo at the Clerk's office. These forms authorized me to be present at the recount and to challenge election recount irregularities. Ms. Castrillo insisted multiple times that no challengers were allowed – that I could only be an observer. However, according to NM Statute Chapter 1. Elections 1-2-25. "Challengers, watchers, county canvass observers; permitted and prohibited activities. A. Challengers, watchers and county canvass observers shall: (6) be allowed in the room in which the absent voter election board, the recount election board or the election board for a special election conducts its business." I was not the only Republican Challenger who was denied an opportunity to do their job at the recount. I stated that I would have to call the Sheriff's Office, because challengers are allowed at recounts per NM Statute. Ms. Castrillo loudly stated that I would not call the Sheriff's Office, that she would call the Sheriff's office and that she would 'take care of me later!' Then she threatened to have me removed, if I said anything more. NM Statute Chapter 1. Elections 1-2-26 states, "The act of denying a challenger, who has presented a written appointment to the precinct board and who is not interfering with the orderly conduct of the election, the right to be present at the polling place, or denying a challenger the right to challenge voters and view the signature rosters or checklist of voters or denying a challenger the right to witness the precinct board in the conduct of its duties is a petty misdemeanor." NM Statute Chapter 1. Elections 1-20-14 Intimidation states, Intimidation consists of inducing or attempting to induce fear in any member of a precinct board, voter, challenger or watcher by use of or threatened use of force, violence, infliction of damage, harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation, upon any voter, precinct board member, challenger or watcher for the purpose of impeding or preventing the free exercise of the elective franchise or the impartial administration of the election or Election Code [Chapter 1 NMSA 1978]. Whoever commits intimidation is guilty of a fourth degree felony.• 

• I was required to sit in a chair in the corner by Ms. Castrillo. I was too far away to observe the Clerk's Office Staff and/or the ballots, but I did observe the Dominion technician often working on the various Dominion machines. Some Ballots were fed into a machine and then refed into the machine again and again because of error messages on the screen. I was not close enough to observe what the screen said or if the tabulation number of votes changed each time.

 • Ms. Castrillo told me that the use of cell phones was not allowed and that I would have to leave the room to use my phone. I observed the two people working at the nearest table in front of me were often using their cell phones as were others in the room throughout the day.

The Grant County Clerk's Office has illegally and possibly deliberately prevented Republican Poll Workers and Republican Challengers from doing their jobs, has not been transparent or honest in handling ballots or election procedures, and should be charged with violating New Mexico election laws. The Grant County Clerk should also not be allowed to threaten or intimidate Republican poll workers or Republican volunteers. Both Republican and Democrat workers and volunteers should be able to work in a hospitable, friendly, non-threatening environment.

I submitted several reports to the Grant County Sheriff's Office, Trump Team, NM Republican Party Headquarters and others. The GC Sheriff's Office stated that they were told by the County Attorney that charging the County Clerk with any law violations would be a conflict of interest. I was told to therefore submit my reports to the NM SOS, Ethics Division. That office dismissed my charges out of hand and closed the case. As far as I know, nothing has been done to hold the Grant County Clerk, her staff, or the NM Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to account, therefore I believe that elections in NM are rife with fraud.

Candy Luhrsen, formerly a resident of Mimbres

Other violations reported by other Republican workers, who wish not to be named, include:

• Ballots received by the Clerk's Office, whether an absentee ballot turned in by a family member or caregiver or received through the U.S. Postal Service are required to be stamped by USPS if mailed, and by the Clerk's Office in either case. The clerk is supposed to keep a register showing the date and time a ballot is received. Most absentee ballots that came through the postal service had not been postmarked. Allegedly, Castrillo said that the USPS quit sending the ballots to El Paso to save time and just put them in bins for the County Clerk. According to a former USPS employee, all mail received at the Silver City Post Office or any other post office, should be postmarked even if it is delivered locally.

 • Another challenger observed that hundreds of absentee ballots lacked postmarks and were also unsigned on the back top left, as instructions tell the voter to do. If the unsigned ballots had been rejected, as they should have been, the outcome might have changed.

• It has been alleged also that when a registered Republican applies for a job at the Clerk's office in any capacity, they are summarily rejected. Only Democrats work in the office. One wonders how a Libertarian might be received. Kind of sounds like a cliquish club, not allowing "outsiders."

All of which makes a person wonder what other violations take place in the Clerk's office not only during election times, but other times. Are citizens treated fairly when they come into the office on official business? Are they immediately sized up as a Republican rather than a Democrat? And if this goes on in the Clerk's office, what about in other departments in the county? Are only Democrats welcome?

Compiled by Mary Alice Murphy