Two candidates running for the Paterson City Council are now tied after a judge ruled that a disputed vote be counted in favor of the challenger.
That puts incumbent Shahin Khalique and challenger Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman each at 1,730 votes in a race for the city’s 2nd Ward council seat that will undoubtedly wind up in court.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella ruled that the Passaic County Board of Elections had misinterpreted a statute during previous vote counts that was corrected today.
One voter initially voted for Khalique, the put an “X” over that ballot bubble and then voted for Akhtaruzzaman. The four Passaic County Board of Election split on how that vote should be counted, if at all
Caposella had ordered the additional recount after the first one showed some discrepancies.
A second recount this morning put Khalique up by two after the initial recount last week gave him a 1-vote margin.
The Paterson election includes allegations of improprieties, including the late delivery of ballots that were cast on time by the U.S. Postal Service.
The 2nd Ward race is one of three council seats facing legal challenges.
State and federal law enforcement are investigating the Paterson election after nearly 900 ballots appear to have been harvested and mailed from three separate mailboxes in the all vote-by-mail election.