Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

"Donald Trump" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

,

On December 14, 2020, a group of New Mexico Republican electors sought to enter the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to certify Donald Trump as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. They were denied entrance and then met at a different location at the Capitol to cast their votes in favor of Trump. The problem was, Trump didn’t win. Biden did. And while this group of electors was appointed by the Republican Party of New Mexico, since Trump didn’t win, their certification was fraudulent. But that didn’t stop them from sending their fake certification to the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The authentic certification by the state’s Electoral College took place on the same day at the state’s Capitol. It’s also the same day that Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit over New Mexico’s use of drop boxes in the 2020 election. The campaign eventually dropped the lawsuit, and New Mexico didn’t do a recount of the votes cast.

It was a move that Republican electors in six other states replicated. Although it had no impact on the outcome of the election, it’s another example of how state electors tried to subvert the Electoral College process. It’s also a key line of inquiry for the bipartisan Congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

Fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states, according to documents obtained by American Oversight. While the documents were posted online in March of last year, as the committee has continued to investigate January 6, there has been renewed interest.

The documents contain the signatures of Trump supporters who claimed to be the rightful electors from states that President Joe Biden won. But these rogue electors didn’t have the backing of any elected officials like a governor or secretary of state, who certify authentic election results.

The five electors who signed the fake certificates were Jewll Powdrell, a retired businessman from Rio Rancho and member of the United Black Conservatives of New Mexico. Deborah W. Maestas, the former Chairwoman of the Republican Party of New Mexico. Lupe Garcia, a New Mexico businessman. Rosie Tripp, former committee member of the Republican National Committee and Anissa Ford-Tinnin. Ford-Tinnin was a campaign aide to former governor Susana Martinez.

As part of the Electoral College process, governors are required to sign a formal “certificate of ascertainment,” verifying that the statewide winner’s slate of electors are the legitimate electors. This is federal law. These electors then sign a second certificate, formally affirming their votes for president. These documents are sent to the National Archives which processes them before they are sent onto Congress, which formally counts the electoral votes on January 6. The real certificates, which have been posted to the National Archives website, correctly stated that Biden won the seven battleground states.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver responded by saying, “The 2020 election was the most secure in American history and no review or audit that has taken place since then has found anything to the contrary. The cynical attempts by the Republican Party, here in New Mexico and elsewhere around the country, to silence voters’ voices in the courts and through these ridiculous attempts to send in fake slates of electors undermine people’s faith in our democratic systems,” she said. “It was a highly irresponsible act grounded in outrageous lies that are sadly still circulating to this day. And, of course, it was these kinds of coordinated acts by Republican Party officials throughout the country which fueled the narrative that led to an attempted insurrection at the US Capitol.”  

So Now What?

What are the repercussions of such an act?

In New Mexico, the electoral college must vote along party lines. If a Democrat is elected, the Democratic electors must all vote for that candidate. If a Republican is elected, all Republican electors must vote for that candidate. Biden won the election, which means that all Electoral College votes for New Mexico must go to Biden, not Trump.

According to New Mexico’s election code, it is a fourth-degree felony for any presidential elector who casts his/her ballot not in favor of the candidate of the political party which nominated them as presidential electors. In New Mexico, the Electoral College must vote along party lines. If a Democrat is elected, the Democratic electors must all vote for that candidate. If a Republican is elected, all electors must vote for that candidate. Biden won. Therefore, the Democrats appointed as presidential electors became the electoral college for the state. The Republican appointees should have stayed out of that process of certification altogether.

Do these Republican electors still hold their positions? Yes, they do. The Secretary of State’s Office says they will not pursue any action because the certification was fake and didn’t undermine the actual authentic certification. The state Attorney General’s Office told The Paper. they “review all complaints of fraud that come to our office, and we will work with the appropriate authorities if action is warranted.”

The Paper. reached out to the Republican Party of New Mexico but did not hear back at press time.