Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

"Polling Place - Vote Here" by Mrs. Gemstone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

At the Jan. 13 Otero County Commission meeting, all three commissioners–Gerald Matherly, Vickie Marquardt and Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffin–voted unanimously to approve an election audit contract of $49,750 with EchoMail Inc. Former New Mexico State University law professor David Clements will lead the audit. Clements was fired from the university in 2021 for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine and for ignoring the mask mandate instituted by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The EchoMail software has been used in other election audits such as the ones in Maricopa County, AZ, led by the Cyber Ninjas. Election officials in Maricopa disputed nearly every claim found in the audit. During Clement’s presentation to the commissioners Griffin said, “I don’t think there’s a more appropriate way to spend taxpayer dollars than to ensure our elections aren’t compromised.”

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, while on leave from NMSU pending his termination, Clements traveled to several states alleging election fraud over the 2020 presidential contest as well as opposing public health mandates related to COVID-19. An online fundraiser set up by a political ally had raised more than $280,000 in donations for Clements. He has also has been a guest on numerous podcasts and cable news programs including “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News. 

How the Audit Would Work

Canvassers will verify voter information with the voter face to face, as well as signature verification. Clements assured commissioners that they would not be asking who voters voted for in the 2020 election. “Something was off on November 3, 2020,” said Clements.

Robyn Holmes, the Republican Otero County Clerk who oversees elections in Otero County, took issue with the assertion that ballots had been deleted or that the voting machines provided by Dominion had been hacked and voter ballots deleted. “When we certify the election results, everything has to balance. We cannot have missing votes. Someone gets a paper ballot and it’s counted and the machine just tabulates the ballot,” she said. Holmes went on to explain that three audits are completed after every election: by County Clerk staff, then by the Secretary of State’s Office and finally it goes to an independent auditor who also verifies the vote count from each county. Clements interrupted Holmes by saying they had rebuttal for every step of verification she asserted. He said that the audit would be examining the foundation that elections are built on.

Toward the end of the presentation, Clements repeatedly referred to the commissioners as the “Courageous Three.” He said his hope would be to return to paper ballots only.

The Paper. reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office for comment on the audit but did not hear back at press time.