Rio Arriba County is sort of a miniature Chicago when it comes to elections. The year began with the indictments of two of its residents for voter fraud. One of them is the wife of an Española city councilor. Then, in last month’s primary election, 55 paper ballots that had been cast by Democratic voters were slashed to indecipherable ribbons by poll workers. This was no small blunder. The case of the butchered ballots cast doubt on the outcome of a close race for a seat on the Rio Arriba County Board of Commissioners.
Not until Thursday night, five weeks after the polls closed in the primary election, did a mild-mannered pastor finally win the commissioner’s election. His victory occurred in a Santa Fe courtroom, where state District Judge Jason Lidyard got the final say.
Lidyard’s ruling capped a bizarre election that should have ended June 5, primary night. Instead, the race for the commissioner’s seat turned into a prolonged melodrama that began in an unlikely spot — the rural outpost of Ojo Sarco.