Judge orders new election in New Jersey race Trump cited for mail-in voter fraud
A New Jersey judge on Wednesday ordered a new election for a Paterson City Council seat whose apparent winner has been charged with voter fraud.
State Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled Wednesday that the new election will be held in November, The Associated Press reported. Alex Mendez appeared to have won the May 12 special election, but the U.S. Postal Service’s law enforcement branch said hundreds of mail-in ballots had been found in a Paterson mailbox.
The Passaic County Board of Elections ultimately discounted 800 ballots. In June, Mendez and Paterson Council Vice President Michael Jackson were charged with voter fraud. Officials also charged two other men, Abu Rayzen of Prospect Park and Shelim Khalique of Wayne, according to the AP. Lawyers for Councilman William McKoy, Mendez’s opponent, secured an injunction against Mendez being sworn in. All four defendants have denied the charges.
President Trump has seized on the case, saying allowing nationwide mail-in voting in the fall election will lead to a similar scenario. In June, he cited the case, saying that comparatively, “Absentee Ballots are fine,” although many states make no such distinction between absentee and mail-in voting. The president’s reelection campaign on Tuesday sued the state in an attempt to stop plans to conduct the election predominantly by mail.
“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,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) said in a statement in June, when he announced charges in the case. “We will not allow a small number of criminals to undermine the public’s confidence in our democratic process.”
In addition to the ballots that the board of elections determined were improperly bundles in mailboxes, the board disqualified another 2,300 after determining signatures on them did not match those on file.