Trump Campaign Files Election Lawsuit in New Mexico Over Ballot Drop Boxes

Trump Campaign Files Election Lawsuit in New Mexico Over Ballot Drop Boxes
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Dec. 12, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Janita Kan

President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday filed a lawsuit in New Mexico challenging the 2020 general election results over the state’s use of ballot drop boxes.

The campaign’s lawsuit alleges that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver violated state election laws by allowing voters to return their absentee ballots in drop boxes placed outside polling locations instead of handing their ballot to a presiding election judge.

The drop boxes were installed in the state as part of measures to avoid crowding at polling places due to the pandemic. The lawsuit argues that the drop boxes should have been subjected to the same requirement as a “secured container,” as stipulated for alternative ballot-return options by the election code.

Under the code, election officials are subject to a number of security requirements when using secured containers, such as installing video surveillance cameras. This was not done with the drop boxes this election, the lawsuit alleges. Instead, the secretary of state treated the drop boxes as an “in person ... alternate voting location, mobile alternate voting location, or election day voting location.”

The campaign sued, asking the court to delay the certification of New Mexico’s election results or alternatively ask the court to order the New Mexico legislature to appoint the electors. The legal team is also asking the judge to mandate a statewide canvass of absentee votes and is seeking the court to segregate the ballots turned in at drop boxes, investigate each location to determine whether statutory procedures were followed, and if they were not, to exclude them from the vote count.

“We have, and must take the time, to ensure integrity of this election,” the campaign wrote in their suit (pdf).

Although New Mexico Democrat electors cast their votes for president on Monday, the campaign argues that the ultimate significant deadline is Jan. 20, as it is the only date stipulated in the U.S. Constitution. The “safe harbor” date, Dec. 14 when electors cast their votes, and Jan. 6 when Congress counts the votes are only deadlines set out under federal law, they argued.

“The President’s lawsuit is valid and necessary,” Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce said in a statement. The state Republican party said they assisted the campaign in the preparation in the case.

“We have questioned these drop boxes and the entire election process where the Secretary of State seems to make up her own rules and allows violations to happen in this past election. To allow these actions to happen stains our election integrity and our very democracy,” Pearce said.

The state Republican Party also said it had Republican presidential electors to cast competing votes on Dec. 14.

Trump, his allies, and a number of third-parties have filed a slew of lawsuits in an attempt to de-certify the election results in multiple battleground states, asking judges to prevent presidential electors in those states from taking any official action until all allegations of fraud are transparently and independently addressed.

According to witness and expert testimony that emerged after Nov. 3, it’s possible that a significant proportion of votes were cast and counted in violation of state election codes and the U.S. Constitution, the legal challenges contest.

Allegations about election fraud have been repeatedly denied by leading election officials, while critics and members of the media have characterized the claims as “baseless.”

Meanwhile, many of these cases have been tossed out by judges for procedural reasons, such as lack of standing to bring a case; lack of jurisdiction to hear the case; mootness, where there is no longer a controversy between the parties; and laches, where a judge ruled there was a lack of diligence in bringing a claim. Other judges are not convinced by the allegations presented.

The Trump legal team is still planning to file new lawsuits in the coming days, which will mimic a Texas lawsuit that was recently tossed out by the Supreme Court due to a lack of legal standing. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is leading the campaign’s legal efforts, said that the president should not have an issue of standing, which Texas had, in these lawsuits.
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