Defenders of U.S. democracy, from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives, have been warning that if “Stop the Steal” MAGA Republicans and promoters of the Big Lie are able to take control of the administration of elections, they will simply throw out any election results they don’t like — which is what they brazenly attempted after the 2020 presidential election. And sure enough, MAGA Republicans in a rural county in New Mexico recently tried to do exactly that.
The county is Otero County, where MAGA Republicans on the country commission refused to certify recent election results — saying that they don’t trust the Dominion voting machines in their area. Legal experts Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, in an op-ed published by CNN’s website on January 20, warn that this is the type of power grab and attack on democracy to expect from MAGA Republicans in the months ahead.
“The commissioners had evidently fallen hook, line and sinker for the completely debunked 2020 election conspiracy theory spread by Trump and his acolyte, lawyer Sidney Powell, that Dominion Voting Systems' machines secretly switched votes from Trump to Joe Biden,” Tribe and Aftergut explain. “On Wednesday, (June 15), the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the commission to reverse course and certify the June 7 election results.”
Tribe and Aftergut add, “That's the good news. Courts — at least those below the U.S. Supreme Court — continue to be reliable institutions affirming truth and the rule of law. The bad news is that judges are unlikely to be able to sustain the heavy burden required to extinguish the disinformation wildfires that have now spread to the election certification process. Republican election sabotage, in which GOP officials refuse to certify the winners, has started.”
The legal experts point to Otero County as proof that “Republican election sabotage in which GOP officials refuse to certify the winners has started.”
Tribe and Aftergut point to Jim Marchant, who won the GOP primary for Nevada secretary of state on June 14, as an example of the type of Republican who would refuse to honor election results he didn’t like.
“Marchant says he would not have certified Joe Biden's 2020 Nevada victory,” Tribe and Aftergut observe. “And he has said he is open to sending to Congress a slate of electors in 2024 who would not vote for Nevada's popular vote winner.”
To make matters worse, they observe, some right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are open to hearing a case involving the Independent State Legislature Theory.
“The anti-democracy premise of ISL is that state legislatures can do whatever they want in federal elections, including ignoring the winner of the state's popular vote,” Tribe and Aftergut note. “The ISL theory is pockmarked with legal holes, as law professors Vikram David Amar and Akhil Amar have ably demonstrated in multiple articles. But if you think that will stop the Court majority from favoring legislatures' ability to destroy majority rule, think again. Over the last decade, the conservative majority has given Republican-controlled legislatures carte blanche to adopt measures suppressing the voting rights of Blacks and other large blocs of voters.”
Tribe and Aftergut conclude their op-ed by warning that Otero County won’t be MAGA Republicans’ last attempt to throw out democratic election results.
“We just saw in New Mexico how broadly the disinformation fueling the conspiracy has spread,” they write. “Only We The People can stop it.”