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Paterson Council candidate Alex Mendez. (Photo: Alex Mendez).

Judge orders recount in controversial Paterson election

Mendez, charged with voter fraud, leads McKoy by 9 votes in do-over election

By David Wildstein, November 30 2020 11:33 am

A Paterson City Council election where allegations of voter fraud triggered criminal charges and a do-over of the original contest will now face a recount after two candidates finished 9 votes apart out of more than 9,000 cast.

Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella today scheduled a recount for December 15.

Alex Mendez leads incumbent Bill McKoy, 3,769 to 3,760.

“Just based on the numbers, we would do a recount,” said Caposella.  “We’re looking at a recount and not an election contest, at last not yet.  That’s a possibility in the future.”

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

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, 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 and is currently serving on the council.

The state opposed McKoy’s bid to waive the cost of the recount.

“The fees are to help defray some of the costs,” said Deputy Attorney General Eric Reid.  “It’s going to take a lot of time.”

But Caposella sided by McKoy’s lawyer, Scott Salmon, and waived the recount fee.

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