Federal and state law enforcement are investigating allegations of voter fraud in tomorrow’s Paterson City Council election, with hundreds of vote-by-mail ballots being collected by the U.S. Postal Service from single mailboxes in Haledon and South Paterson, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
In some cases, large quantities of VBM ballots were fastened together with a rubber-band and dropped at the same location.
While postal officials reported the irregularities, two sources have told the Globe that the ballots are currently in the possession of the Passaic County Board of Elections.
It is not immediately clear whether ballots in the all-VBM election were harvested – a practice where a particular person or group collects them directly from voters – or if they were stolen directly from apartment buildings.
There have been reports in Paterson of voters not receiving their ballots, and of letter carriers leaving massive numbers of ballots in a bin at a particular apartment building, rather than sort them directly into a voters personal mail slot.
In one case, 366 ballots for the 3rd Ward council race where picked up from the same mailbox in Haledon.
In that race, five-term Councilman William McKoy faces a challenge from former Councilman Alex Mendez.
McKoy beat Mendez by about 100 votes in 2012 and won challenger Flavio Rivera by a little more than 300 votes in 2016.
Mendez ran for mayor in 2018 and while Andre Sayegh won the post by more than 4,000 votes, Mendez outpolled him on VBM ballots.
Additional ballots, possible in the hundreds, a source told the Globe, were dropped at the same mailbox in South Paterson for the 2nd Ward race.
New Jersey election law limit the number of ballots one individual can deliver to three.
Ballots where the bearer section is not filled in properly are kept separately before VBM ballots are counted, election officials say.
WNBC-TV first reported that law enforcement is looking into the issue.