A state superior court judge ruled Wednesday that a new election will be held for a disputed Paterson, New Jersey city council seat after allegations of voter fraud via mail-in-ballots. The ruling comes only weeks after voter fraud charges were brought against the May 12 election winner Alex Mendez, per the Associated Press.
Mendez was charged with voter fraud along with Paterson Council Vice President Michael Jackson, Shelim Khalique and Abu Rayzen — all of whom have denied the charges, according to The Hill. An investigation performed by the U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement arm found hundreds of mail-in ballots in a Paterson mailbox, as reported by the AP.
Ultimately, 800 ballots were discounted by the Passaic County Board of Elections and another 2,300 ballots were rendered ineligible after analyzing signatures on file and comparing them to those on the ballots, according to the Hill. A Passaic County report shows that these 3,100 disqualified ballots is equal to more than 22% of the total votes cast in the election. (RELATED: Michigan Rejects More Than 10,000 Absentee Ballots, Including Some From Voters Who Died)
A June press release from the office of the New Jersey attorney general quoted Attorney General Grewal, saying, “Today’s charges send a clear message: if you try to tamper with an election in New Jersey, we will find you and we will hold you accountable. We will not allow a small number of criminals to undermine the public’s confidence in our democratic process.” (RELATED: Trump Campaign Sues New Jersey Over Mail-In Ballots)
An attorney for Mendez’ opponent Councilman William McKoy swiftly obtained an injunction that prevented Mendez from taking McKoy’s seat and being sworn in, reports The Hill.
The local race has garnered national attention amid the political battle regarding nationwide mail-in voting for the upcoming presidential election. President Donald Trump made reference to the Paterson election in a tweet attacking mail-in voting.
The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it. So much time is taken talking about foreign influence, but the same people won’t even discuss Mail-In election corruption. Look at Patterson, N.J. 20% of vote was corrupted!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2020
The Trump campaign is suing New Jersey over Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order adopting a hybrid voting model for this November, as reported by CNN on Wednesday.
Murphy responded Wednesday at a press conference.
“The President’s campaign is putting itself on record as wanting to delegitimize our November election instead of working with us to ensure that voters rights are upheld alongside public health,” Murphy said.