AG: New Mexico ‘fake electors’ can’t be prosecuted
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico was one of the seven states involved in a “fake elector” scheme, which was an effort to help overturn the 2020 election results in favor of Donald Trump.
The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office released its final report on its investigation into that scheme Friday, where it concluded there are no suitable criminal charges for the five New Mexicans involved.
According to the report, a group of five New Mexicans chosen by the state’s Republican Party signed their names on a fraudulent document saying New Mexic’s five electoral votes would go to Trump – despite Joe Biden winning the state with a 10% lead.
According to the report, the Trump campaign orchestrated the scheme to prepare for lawsuits challenging the election results. Those fake electoral votes were simply placeholders, and it appears the fake electors believed that.
Based on those key details and current state laws, the attorney general’s office determined it would be impossible to press charges, so they’re asking state lawmakers to make sure they don’t end up in that situation again.
“Unfortunately, there are no viable avenues to hold them criminally responsible,” said Sean Sullivan, assistant attorney general.
The fraudulent electoral vote certificate includes specific language that indicated the document would only be used if lawsuits challenging the election results were successful.
“What they told us during the investigation was that they believe that these were placeholder votes, and certainly the documentation between these electors corroborated that,” Sullivan said. “So they did not have the specific intent to defraud, which is required under New Mexico’s forgery statute.”
Sullivan added that New Mexico’s election laws are narrowly written, and don’t directly outlaw falsified electoral ballots.
“I think that the best thing that we can do now is use that as a learning experience to say, listen, this kind of thing can happen, this kind of scheme is out there,” Sullivan said.
That’s why the attorney general’s office is asking the Legislature to update state laws.
The report recommends expanding New Mexico’s election laws to outlaw any falsified election documents. It also urges lawmakers to make “falsely acting as a presidential elector” a crime.
“It’s essentially that our lawmakers put these things into place, so that the next time someone thinks about that potential, they hesitate to do so as a result of the potential criminal culpability,” Sullivan said.
The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office says it supports any policies that strengthen the integrity of the electoral process.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office says it’s still reviewing the attorney general’s findings and their options for addressing the issue.
Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce issued the following statement:
“AG Torrez is hypocritically trying to criminalize a process that famously allowed Democrats in Hawaii to cast their vote for John F. Kennedy despite the state being called for Richard Nixon during the 1960 Presidential election.
Had the Democratic electors not cast their votes for John F. Kennedy by the federal deadline, even though the state was still called for Nixon, they would have lost their ability to have their electoral vote counted when the election outcome eventually did change in that instance.
In 2020, New Mexico faced numerous election challenges that had the possibility of going before a court. Therefore, the New Mexico electors cast their votes by the deadline written within the federal statute 3 U.S.C. §§7-8, ‘on the first Tuesday after the second Wednesday in December,’ in the event the election outcome changed.
AG Torrez agrees that the Republican electors did not violate the law, but now he wants to criminalize the process used by both Democrats and Republicans.
New Mexicans are tired of Democrats’ unproductive stunts that are a diversion from the real issues affecting our state and the actual assaults being waged on New Mexicans’ constitutional rights by the Democrat Party.”