President Donald Trump's campaign drops New Mexico election lawsuit
ALBUQUERQUE – President Donald Trump's campaign voluntarily dismissed its federal lawsuit over New Mexico's use of ballot drop boxes in the 2020 election Monday.
In a complaint similar to that in a failed lawsuit the campaign had filed in Pennsylvania, the campaign alleged that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, violated the state election code by permitting voters to deposit completed absentee ballots in drop boxes at voting locations rather than handing them to the location's presiding judge in person.
Drop boxes were installed around the state this fall with federal CARES Act funding to reduce people congregating at voting locations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Republican Party of New Mexico challenged the drop boxes and accused two county clerks of lax security measures in state court in October, later withdrawing its complaint after Toulouse Oliver's office reiterated previously issued guidance to county clerks on their use.
The campaign sought to delay the certification of New Mexico's electoral votes, segregate absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes so those voters could confirm that they, a family member or a caretaker dropped it off personally, and to invalidate alleged "illegal drop box ballots."
The campaign had also filed large public records requests seeking information related to Dominion Voting Systems machines, which New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said were "motivated by an outlandish conspiracy theory" in a statement Monday.
In a three-page motion, Albuquerque attorney Mark J. Caruso, representing the Trump campaign, cited "events that have transpired since the inception of this lawsuit" as grounds for dropping the suit.
On Jan. 6, as the U.S. Congress met to certify the Electoral College results electing Democrat Joe Biden as president of the United States, a mob of pro-Trump rioters forced their way into the U.S. Capitol in a siege that resulted in the deaths of a U.S. capitol police officer and four rioters. A second police officer who was on duty that day died by suicide over the weekend.
New Mexico congresswoman Yvette Herrell, a Republican representing the 2nd congressional district encompassing southern New Mexico, denounced the violence yet persisted in objecting to certification of the electoral results even after the riots took place, when Congress resumed that night. She voted against certification of electoral results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, the only two states whose results were challenged by members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In the days since, Democrats have called for Trump to be removed from office. His term is set to end at noon on Jan. 20, when Biden is sworn in as the next president.
"As no new facts have come to light since they filed this lawsuit and records requests, except the anti-democratic horror show that played out as the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, this withdrawal suggests that the Trump campaign knew from the very beginning that their lawsuit was baseless and that it was simply a political show," Toulouse Oliver stated in a news release.
She went on to defend the Nov. 3, 2020 election as "one of the safest and most secure elections in our state's history" and said the lawsuit "attempted to throw out the votes of every New Mexico voter who cast a lawful ballot last November."
Reacting to the dismissal of the lawsuit, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas referred angrily to the riot and rumblings that more confrontations are being planned at state Capitols ahead of Biden's inauguration.
"This dangerous lawsuit was a lost cause from the beginning," he stated in a news release, "but Republican leaders should put safety first and admit their loyalty is to Donald Trump over New Mexico and the United States; and I am still demanding that they step up and admit that the lies they continue to spread resulted in the deaths of civilians and law enforcement in a violent attack on our democracy."
Last week, Balderas called on the New Mexico Republican chairman Steve Pearce and Herrell to call on the Trump campaign to drop the lawsuit, but Herrell did not address it publicly and the state GOP fired back at Balderas in a tweet Sunday morning calling Balderas "desperate" and saying, "We will not be intimidated or strong-armed into submission."