William McKoy filed a legal challenge today to reclaim his Paterson City Council seat, asking a judge to determine whether he actually won a November do-over election that election officials say he lost by 14 votes to now-Councilman Alex Mendez.
McKoy alleges that 39 vote-by-mail ballots cast for him were improperly rejected by election officials, and that 31 other ballots that were counted came from people who were ineligible to vote in the Third Ward election.
This is the latest chapter in an election that the state attorney general claims was influenced by voter fraud in the original May 2020 election.
Mendez defeated McKoy, a longtime incumbent, in that race by 245 votes, but Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposella ruled that possible fraudulent activity made it impossible to determine the real winner. He barred Mendez from being sworn in and ordered a new election in November 3.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced in June that the state had charged Mendez with trying to steal the first election. Mendez is awaiting trial.
After a recount of the November election, Mendez was certified as the winner, 3,769 to 3,760, a margin of 41.8 % to 41.7%.
In a court filing on Monday, McKoy said the 39 mail-on ballots rejected by the Passaic County Board of Elections included legitimate votes of him where signatures didn’t match.
An additional 20 votes that were counted came from voters who live in Paterson, but not in the Third Ward. Eleven more votes were cast by people who do not reside in Paterson.
“As a result of these acts and others, legal votes were rejected and illegal votes were counted sufficient in number to change the result of the election, cast a cloud on the election, and raise sufficient factual basis to declare the election void and invalid,” said McKoy attorney Scott Salmon in the complaint.
Salmon is asking for a hearing to review McKoy’s objections, and a chance to review election records and take depositions.
He also wants a judge to declare, after the hearing, that McKoy was the winner of the election, or “declare that it cannot be determined with reasonable certainty who received a plurality of the votes cast for the position.”