State Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled on Wednesday that a new election must be held in November for a Paterson City Council seat in New Jersey after the winner of the race and an elected official were charged with voter fraud.
Caposela wrote that the election had been irreversibly tainted and that it “was not the fair, free and full expression of the intent of the voters.”
“It was the right ruling. That past election was fraught with fraud,” Mayor Andre Sayegh told CNN. “The City will comply with the judge’s decision and we created the Mayor’s Election Awareness Team to preserve the value of the vote in Paterson.”
The investigation began after postal workers discovered hundreds of mail-in ballots that were bundled together in a mailbox.
According to a press release from the state, the following four individuals were charged in the case:
Michael Jackson, 48, of Paterson—1st Ward Councilman and Council Vice President, was charged with Fraud in Casting Mail-In Vote (3rd Degree), Unauthorized Possession of Ballots (3rd Degree), Tampering with Public Records (3rd Degree), and Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree).
Alex Mendez, 45, of Paterson—3rd Ward Councilman-Elect, was charged with Election Fraud (2nd Degree), Fraud in Casting Mail-In Vote (3rd Degree), Unauthorized Possession of Ballots (3rd Degree), False Registration or Transfer (Third-Degree), Tampering with Public Records (3rd Degree), and Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree).
Shelim Khalique, 51, of Wayne, N.J., was charged with Fraud in Casting Mail-In Vote (3rd Degree), Unauthorized Possession of Ballots (3rd Degree), Tampering with Public Records (3rd Degree), and Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree).
Abu Razyen, 21, of Prospect Park, N.J., was charged with Fraud in Casting Mail-In Vote (3rd Degree) and Unauthorized Possession of Ballots (3rd Degree).
“NBC New York reported that 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots were received, but only 13,557 votes were counted,” The Daily Wire reported in late June. “Around 800 votes were not counted because they ‘were found improperly bundled in mailboxes’ and the remaining 2,390 disqualifications were due to signature discrepancies.”
U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently warned that universal mail-in voting “absolutely” opens the floodgates to voter fraud in elections.
“It absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud. Those things are delivered into mailboxes. They can be taken out,” Barr said. “There’s questions about whether or not it even denies a secret ballot, because a lot of the states have you signing the outside of the envelope. So, the person who opens the envelope will know how people voted.”
“[R]ight now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot,” Barr continued. “So, I think it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections. If anything, we should tighten them up right now.”
In a separate interview, Barr said that he was “very worried” about the issue in part because of how fractured America is right now and that if the election is close it could further rip apart the country.
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