PATERSON, NJ - Citing the vast number of uncounted ballots, “a considerable number of additional irregularities” that are reported to have occurred during the election, and the belief that federal and state authorities are already conducting their own investigations into the Paterson municipal elections, Nakima Redmon and Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman have both filed for recounts in their respective races.
Redmon, who challenged First Ward Councilman Michael Jackson, and Akhtaruzzaman who took on Second Ward Councilman Shahin Khalique, both came in second place following the initial count of ballots in the all mail in vote election.
In court court filings Scott Salmon, an attorney representing both challengers, as well as Bill McKoy who also filed for a recount in his Third Ward election last week, pointed to their belief that “a significant number of ballots were unlawfully obtained and/or harvested,” making the results in the election “uncertain.”
With 85 percent of the ballots cast in the First Ward counted, Jacskon came out ahead of Redmon by a total of 245 votes, 844 to 599. A third candidate, Mosleh Uddin, garnered 490 votes. The Second Ward, with 80 percent of ballots counted, showed much closer results with Khalique besting Akhtaruzzaman by just eight votes. Frank Filippelli, whose name also appeared on the Second Ward ballot received 440 votes.
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 May 19, 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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