A Paterson city council candidate who ended the May 12 election with a 240 vote lead says that local politicians sough to suppress the Hispanic vote in the 3rd ward contest.
“24% of the total ballots received were rejected and of that total 74% were cast by voters with Hispanic surnames,” said Alex Mendez, a former councilman seeking a return to the governing body. “This demonstrates that Hispanic voters were the victims of voter discrimination and were targeted resulting in voter suppression.”
Mendez claims city officials used police officers to “intimidate and abuse Hispanic voters” to help incumbent Bill McKoy keep his council seat.
He is asking federal law enforcement to launch an investigation.
Mendez’s attorney, Gregg F. Paster, said Paterson Police Sgt. Edwin Morillo was captured on video “knocking on the doors of 3rd Ward residents and conducting what purports and appears to be an official investigation into the confidential voting actions of voters.”
“It would appear at this time that there is a systematic plan underway to disenfranchise a significant portion of the Latino electorate, in order to benefit the incumbent candidate, who lost the election by 240 votes, even with the 1,108 votes disqualified,” Paster said. “If we are going to start going door to door questioning voters, let’s count every ballot, as was the intent of the Governor in ordering universal mail in voting for this election, and then examine all 4,500 votes individually and see what the result is.”
Paster said he was skeptical of reports that as many as 900 ballots were flagged by the U.S. Postal Service because they were bundled together in a small number of mailboxes.
Mendez leads McKoy, 1,598 to 1,358. McKoy picked up five votes in a recount last week.
Passaic County Board of Elections Chairman John Currie, who also chairs the state and county Democratic parties, said on election day that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was on-site on May 12 investigating the Paterson balloting. Currie was on a live-stream broadcast of the count and made his comments to other election officials.
Mendez, who ran for mayor in 2018, is a former at-large councilman and political rival of Mayor Andre Sayegh. The conventional wisdom is that Mendez challenged McKoy to set up another run for mayor in 2022.Paster to US Attorney