PATERSON, NJ - Councilman William McKoy, the longest serving member of the Paterson’s legislative body, is seeking a recount after vote totals showed Alex Mendez, a former councilman and mayoral candidate, beating him out by 245 votes in the 3rd Ward contest.
Filed in Passaic County Superior Court on Friday, McKoy’s petition requests the Passaic County Clerk and Passaic County Board of Elections conduct a hand recount because he believes errors were made and the overall count is inaccurate.
McKoy’s attorney, Scott Salmon, said, “We filed for this recount because we want to make sure the election actually represents the will of the voters. We’re concerned with the sheer number of ballots that have been rejected. We’re concerned that at least 300 ballots, that we know of, were stuffed into the same postbox on the same day in a different town. We’re concerned with the public reports from voters saying they didn’t have a chance to vote or didn’t receive their ballots, yet the records show that someone voted on their behalf.”
“We’re hopeful this recount will give us some insight into who actually won the right to represent the Third Ward on the City Council,” Salmon added.
According to the petition, 3,402 of the 4,565 votes cast in the 3rd Ward were counted and Mendez has been certified by the county clerk as the winner.
In his petition, McKoy said he believes “a significant number of ballots were unlawfully obtained and/or harvested” and that “25% of the total ballots cast in the Third Ward were not counted, with at least 300 of the 1,163 uncounted ballots expressly disqualified by the Passaic County Board of Elections due to concerns over voter fraud.”
He also said “a considerable number of additional irregularities have transpired in the course of the election, such as voters receiving the wrong ballots, entire households asserting that they never voted in spite of records showing their ballots were received, the discovery of stacks of mail-in ballots in apartment buildings and the publication of a video on social media showing a man in a vehicle with a stack of mail-in ballots.”
When asked for a comment on McKoy’s request for a recount, Mendez said he was “exceptionally grateful for the overwhelming support in this recent election from my community.”
He added: “Given the significant margin of victory, I am confident that any recount will not result in any changes. I am going to continue to focus on making the 3rd Ward and Paterson a better place to live and raise our families.”
Paterson’s May 12 election was conducted entirely through vote-by-mail ballots due to COVID-19 concerns and as of May 14– the last day for ballots to be postmarked and returned to the county - 16,747 voters had sent in their completed ballots.
The results were finalized on Tuesday, after the county board of elections received a 7-day extension from a New Jersey Superior Court Judge to allow more time for counting.
According to Board of Elections spokesman Keith Furlong, more than 800 ballots were set aside after the U.S. Postal Service notified the county “about bundled vote-by-mail ballots within their possession.”
Furlong added that “any potential irregularities” discovered during the count “will be handed off to the appropriate law enforcement agencies."
While posts, photos and videos have abounded on social media purporting to show patterns of ballots being completed and returned in a fraudulent manner, as well as indications that law enforcement officials are looking into any improprieties, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office said he could not confirm or deny whether any investigations are currently underway regarding Paterson’s election.
Despite the lack of official confirmation, a source, asking that their name not be used as they are not authorized to speak to the matter, told TAPinto Paterson that “they have been here for months.”
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