OPINION: Otero commissioners as dangerous as a poke in the eye

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Jun. 17—The Otero County commissioners, also known as Curly, Moe and Lurleen, claim they didn't trust the Dominion voting machines used in the June 7 primary election.

Did these suspicious politicians ever object to Dominion machines before the election?

"No, they didn't," said Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, which administers elections.

Did they say anything at all about Dominion?

"Vague and conspiratorial assertions they've been making for a while now," Curtas said.

Curly, Moe and Lurleen are a clumsy trio, as reckless with their allegations as they are lazy. If they had any basis to believe Dominion machines couldn't be trusted, why did they contain their skepticism? A municipal election occurred last year.

Moe, whose real name is Commissioner Couy Griffin, said after the primary he feared "ghost voters" had infiltrated his county. He based his position on a claim from a fellow conspiracy theorist who pitched the fantasy that in-person voter fraud is widespread.

That claim is at odds with a body of national research. But loose talk about ghost voters gave Griffin something hang his Cowboys for Trump hat on.

A judge convicted Griffin of misdemeanor trespassing in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Griffin was among thousands of Donald Trump's supporters who traveled to Washington to sputter about the presidential election being stolen from their benevolent candidate.

Dominion machines were one of Trump's chief targets. Griffin buys the defeated president's debunked story — lock, stock and ballot box.

Against all logic, Commissioner Moe didn't ask the secretary of state for different voting machines. Griffin waited until the primary election was completed without a hitch. Then he led the commissioners in a unanimous vote against certifying the results.

The state Supreme Court has ordered the commissioners to reverse themselves and comply with their lawful duty. Look for the commissioners to assemble in an emergency meeting, where they probably will fold, though Griffin told The New Mexican he still won't vote to certify the election results.

Still, Curly, Moe and Lurleen don't strike me as brave enough to defy a court order.

Curly, who doubles as Commissioner Gerald Matherly, is more a mumbler than a communicator. Perhaps every fifth word arrived with clarity when he spoke at a post-election commissioners' meeting.

Matherly said he watched the movie 2000 Mules purporting to show evidence of voter fraud torpedoing Trump's reelection. Commissioner Curly muttered something about the movie making an impression on him. There's nothing like sloppy cinema as justification for bad public policy.

Commissioner Lurleen is sometimes called Vickie Marquardt. She said she operated on instinct in opposing certification of the election.

Dominion machines are reason for concern, Marquardt said. She didn't explain why she failed to press for an alternative voting system before the primary election.

Curly, Moe and Lurleen are Republicans. So is Robyn Holmes, the Otero County clerk who oversaw the election.

Holmes and the commissioners clashed after a couple of Griffin's cohorts claimed they had unearthed evidence of people not living where they are registered to vote.

"You're in the middle of elections that are fraudulent right now is what you're in the middle of," Griffin said to Holmes.

"Wow! Wow!" Holmes shot back, annoyed but not surprised by Griffin's accusation.

"If what they're telling us is true ..." Griffin began.

"If what they're telling us! If!" Holmes said, her voice louder than at any point in the meeting.

"Let me rephrase it," Griffin said. "I'm sorry since that hit you so hard. If, if what they're saying is true, the elections that you're working on right now are fraudulent."

Holmes would have none of Griffin's suppositions. The election was fair, she told him.

Griffin decided on a personal attack. "Yeah, roll your eyes. You're real good at that," he said to Holmes.

By voting against certifying the election, Commissioners Curly, Moe and Lurleen delayed a victory for a Trump devotee, blogger John Block.

Block upset two-term state Rep. Rachel Black of Alamogordo in a hard-fought Republican primary. His margin of victory was slender — 49 votes in a race where 3,041 ballots were cast.

I asked Block if he believed the results were accurate.

"I do. From what we did on the campaign trail, I know we won," he said.

Block saw no errors, abnormalities or ghost voters in his election. He doesn't feel the same about Trump's defeat, claiming elections were suspicious in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Block also said Dominion should be scrutinized, despite what he perceives as its deadly accuracy in his race.

"We definitely should look at these machines," he said.

If the results were accurate in a close, contentious legislative election, why would Dominion machines have failed in other races?

That's a question for Curly, Moe and Lurleen to answer. None of them responded to my requests for an interview.

They didn't set out to be a comedy team on a national stage.

Fear and favor were their guide. They might be good for a laugh if they weren't so dangerous.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.