New Mexico Audit Force given access to 2020 Otero County ballots for rerun

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On March 9, the Otero County Fairgrounds exhibition building served as a ballot rerun center.

Members of the New Mexico Audit Force and Otero County Clerk's Office were on hand to check-in the ballots and scan them as part of the rerun process.

"(The process) starts with the ballot box, that's where the County Clerk transfers chain of custody to the audit team, so they fill out the correct paperwork," New Mexico Audit Force Director Erin Clements said. "Then we have the process controllers and they oversee the entire process and then I'm the process supervisor so I'm overseeing staffing each station."

More: Otero County candidates file to be on New Mexico Primary ballot

Otero County Clerk Robyn Holms, middle, speaks with a member of New Mexico Audit Force prior to the ballot rerun at the Otero County Fairgrounds on March 9, 2022 while Otero County Undersheriff Sean Jett looks on.

One of the facets of the Otero County 2020 Election Audit is an inspection and rerun of all the ballots that were  cast during the 2020 General Election.
Otero County Clerk Robyn Holms, middle, speaks with a member of New Mexico Audit Force prior to the ballot rerun at the Otero County Fairgrounds on March 9, 2022 while Otero County Undersheriff Sean Jett looks on. One of the facets of the Otero County 2020 Election Audit is an inspection and rerun of all the ballots that were cast during the 2020 General Election.

As controllers check out ballots, they take the ballots to one of four teams so that the process can continue throughout the day, Clements said.

There were also couriers who took ballots to one of the four teams and were also responsible for getting the ballots back to the Otero County Clerk when New Mexico Audit Force finished with them, Clements said.

The entire Otero County Clerk's Office staff were on-hand to help with the process as was Otero County Undersheriff Sean Jett for security.

Story continues below.

Otero County Voter Guide: 2022 Primary Election

"We have met with the group from New Mexico Audit Force, we have worked out a system, a system that they use to scan the ballots," Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes said Wednesday morning. "We're assisting, we're preparing all of the ballots so that we can keep count on our side and they can keep count on their side. So far, everything's going wonderful, as I expect it to the rest of the day."

Clements was also hopeful about the day's process.

"This is the will of the community of Otero County," Clements said. "We're auditing the paper ballots. We have a full forensic audit going on right now that has three parts. It has a full canvass of the voter rolls and then the audit of the paper is what we're doing today and we're going to be doing an audit of the electronic equipment another time."

The Otero County Commission approved a $49,750 contract with EchoMail to do an independent forensic audit of the 2020 General Election in Otero County.

Otero County Deputy Clerks prepare ballots for inspection by New Mexico Audit Force at the Otero County Fairgrounds March 9, 2022.

One of the facets of the Otero County 2020 Election Audit is an inspection and rerun of all the ballots that were  cast during the 2020 General Election.
Otero County Deputy Clerks prepare ballots for inspection by New Mexico Audit Force at the Otero County Fairgrounds March 9, 2022. One of the facets of the Otero County 2020 Election Audit is an inspection and rerun of all the ballots that were cast during the 2020 General Election.

New Mexico Audit Force are volunteers with EchoMail who are doing much of the work on the audit including the door-to-door canvass, auditing the ballots and another audit of the Otero County Clerk's electronic equipment that was used at polls during the 2020 Election.

A voter risk advisory was issued for Otero County voters by the New Mexico Secretary of State and New Mexico Attorney General's Offices on March 2 after a TikTok video was posted allegedly showing one of the canvassers identifying herself as working for Otero County.

More: New Mexico leaders warn Otero County voters not to share personal information amid 'vigilante audit'

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver called the entire process a "vigilante audit," and said her office did not provide the organization with voter roles. Clements maintains that the list New Mexico Audit Force is using to canvass Otero County voters came from Toulouse Oliver's office.

Nicole Maxwell can be contacted by email at nmaxwell@alamogordonews.com, by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.

This article originally appeared on Alamogordo Daily News: New Mexico Audit Force checked ballots as part of 2020 Election Audit