True The Vote (TTV), a grassroots organization supporting election integrity, on Tuesday stopped leftist efforts to force New Mexico to shift to a mail-in election system in the state’s upcoming June primary.
What leftist county clerks and the Secretary of State were trying to accomplish in New Mexico was to get the state’s Supreme Court to assert control over how the state would handle elections rather than the legislature, where elected state lawmakers normally set procedure for how elections are conducted.
The leftist petitioners argued that the coronavirus crisis would provide the state courts cover to do so. Until TTV stepped in, there was little to no opposition to the left’s efforts that fit into a broader national agenda that Democrats throughout the party’s leadership are embracing.
“When the citizens of New Mexico reached out to True The Vote, there was no opposition in place to stop this,” Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder and president of True The Vote, told Breitbart News exclusively on Tuesday evening. “And, within days, we assembled a legal team and put together a 59-page brief that was used as the core document in today’s argument. The outcome was the court decided it didn’t have a role in controlling elections and it should stay within the bounds of the state constitution. All of us sitting at home watching headlines about the left trying to fundamentally change the way we conduct elections, get involved. Now is the time to get in the field and have your voice heard. If you are facing this in your state and are fighting back, True The Vote will have your back. This is just the beginning. We’re headed to Nevada next, where a similar situation is in play, and we’re going to stop it there too.”
Engelbrecht added that this is a playbook the left intends to roll out nationwide in any state they can.
“The thing they wanted most of all was they wanted legal precedent to be able to say to the courts, ‘you can make these decisions,’” Engelbrecht said. “Had we not stopped it here, it would have rolled across this country like a subversive fog.”
Jim Bopp, TTV’s general counsel, added in a statement to Breitbart News about the legal brief that TTV filed that the organization’s argument here framed the court’s ultimate decision noting that, had the NM Supreme Court gone the other way, it would have resulted in federal litigation.
“TTV made clear in our amicus brief that if the NM Supreme Court jumped off a cliff and illegally ordered a mail-in election that they would be sued in federal court for violating the rights of voters,” Bopp said. “They pulled back from the edge of the cliff.”
Local state television outlet KRQE reported from Santa Fe on Tuesday evening about the New Mexico Supreme Court’s historic ruling against the left’s vote-by-mail agenda:
The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected an emergency petition from the Secretary of State and county clerks to send all New Mexico voters a mail-in ballot for the upcoming 2020 primary election.
The court ruled unanimously [Tuesday] evening that state law prohibits the Secretary of State and county clerks from sending every registered voter an absentee ballot for the scheduled June 2 primary.
Petitioners had been seeking a complete shift to a vote-by-mail election in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s subsequent health orders limiting public gatherings.
As part of its order, the New Mexico Supreme Court is now directing all county clerks to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. Voters will have to complete those ballot applications and send them in to their county clerk’s office in order to receive an absentee ballot in the mail.
The justices also ordered all in-person voting on election day or in early voting to comply with the state’s ongoing public health orders.
The decision made by two retired and three sitting state Supreme Court justices came just before 6 p.m. Tuesday after more than two hours of arguments in a hearing conducted via video conference. The hearing was also the first state Supreme Court proceeding to ever be live-streamed from the high court’s Santa Fe courthouse.
Petitioners supporting the push to send absentee ballots to all voters argued that lawmakers and Governor do not have time to safely convene special session before the June 2 primary to change New Mexico’s voting laws. Legal counsel representing the county clerks requested a “re-application” of New Mexico’s special election laws, which allow vote-by-mail.
TTV’s actions came as the state GOP also directly intervened. Carter Harrison, an attorney representing the New Mexico GOP, discussed his team’s argument about the lack of merits of the petitioners’ case in a statement to KRQE:
I think the reason the election code has not yet embraced that process which is just the vote by mail process is for some of the practical issues that we, that I discussed in the brief, with the fact that our rolls are really not maintained to the level that is appropriate for the institution of vote by mail. Colorado spent many years and a lot of money getting their rolls in appropriate condition to have automatic distribution.
Engelbrecht praised Harrison’s role in stopping this too, telling Breitbart News that the state GOP fighting back was critical to blocking the left’s moves.
Democrats in New Mexico were disheartened at the court’s ruling.
Marg Ellston, the chair of the New Mexico Democrat Party, said in response to the ruling:
The Democratic Party of New Mexico remains concerned about how in-person voting could threaten the health and safety of many New Mexicans. We will continue to do everything possible to help our fellow New Mexicans make their voices heard, including encouraging voters to fill out their absentee ballot applications. We regret that the GOP’s efforts to suppress the vote ave made it harder to vote and put poll workers at risk, but we will not give up this fight.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the state were pleased with the court’s decision.
Steve Pearce, the former U.S. representative and current chairman of the state GOP, said:
This decision by the Court ensures that the health and safety of every voter and worker is protected, while making sure that our election will not be susceptible to fraud. We are pleased that the Justices recognized this and that we can proceed with a fair and free election in a safe environment.
This historic loss for the left was the first of many battles to come on this front. Top national Democrats ranging from former President Barack Obama and his wife. former first lady Michelle Obama, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to many others have openly embraced the vote-by-mail push–using the coronavirus crisis to try to instill their agenda.
Engelbrecht, whose group True The Vote survived an effort by the Obama administration to target her via the IRS scandal, said leftists are going to be pushing this everywhere, anytime they can.
“It’s playing out now in the primaries,” Engelbrecht said. “The laws that are being passed, the court cases that are being filed to advance their efforts are under the guise of ‘oh it’s only just for the primary.’ Read closely. No it’s not. We are pro-vote, and defenders of the people and of free and fair elections. We’re going to go in just as we did in New Mexico and we’re going to represent citizens. In Nevada, we’ll be representing a group of citizens from Reno, Nevada.”
Had the left pulled this one off in New Mexico, Engelbrecht worries, it would have transformed the way American elections are handled. This is why True The Vote is ramping up efforts to stop this push everywhere and is gearing up for a national battle against the Democrats’ vote-by-mail push.
“Had they won, this had the potential to fundamentally transform elections in November, and that’s why we couldn’t let it stand,” Engelbrecht said.