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Paterson Council candidate Alex Mendez.

Dozens of ballots have gone missing in Paterson recount

Election was a do-over after candidate charged with ballot fraud

By David Wildstein, December 19 2020 7:14 pm

There are at least 56 ballots missing in a recount for Paterson City Council, where Alex Mendez won the do-over election for the 3rd Ward seat the state attorney general claims he stole in May.

Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella, who ordered the new election and the recount, is almost sure to have challenges to this election back in his courtroom.

Passaic County election officials recounted votes on Tuesday and Saturday of this week, with Mendez’s lead over now-former councilman William McKoy growing nine votes to fifteen, 3,739 to 3,724.

The initial county had put Mendez up nine, 3,769 to 3,760.

That means there are 66 votes counted from the November 3 election that didn’t turn up in the new count.

The number was higher this afternoon, but election officials located some of the ballots in a bin for another municipality.

The McKoy forces are also expected to ask Caposella to look at 11 ballots of voters who don’t live in Paterson, and somewhere between 30 and 40 who live in other wards but somehow cast their votes in the McKoy vs. Mendez contest.

Last May, Mendez won a Paterson City Council seat by 240 votes against McKoy, the longtime incumbent.

The race attracted national attention and President Trump cited it more than once as an example of the pitfalls to an all vote-by-mail election.

Just before Election Day in May, the post office reported that they had found about 900 ballots, most of them rubber-banded together, in a handful of mailboxes.

A few weeks later, the attorney general of New Jersey announced voter fraud charges against Mendez, another city councilman, and two others.

Mendez was accused of fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records.  Mendez was also charged with election fraud and false registration.

Caposella refused to allow Mendez to take his council seat.

The judge invalidated the election.  He said it was impossible to determine the true winner – so he ordered the election to be re-run on November 3.

Mendez took the oath of office after the new results were certified. and is currently serving on the council.

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