A Paterson city council race that resulted in criminal charges of voter fraud against one of the candidates will get a do-over in November.
Both candidates – challenger Alex Mendez, who finished the May 12 election 240 votes ahead and was charged a few weeks later, and longtime incumbent William McKoy – have agreed to a special election rather than a protracted legal fight, according to McKoy’s attorney, Scott Salmon.
Mendez is accused of fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records. He was also charged with election fraud and false registration.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela refused to allow Mendez to take his seat when the city council reorganized on July 1.
Caposela hinted last week that he might be inclined to order a new election, saying that he would likely never be able to determine who won the 3rd Ward council race.
Nearly 900 ballots that appear to have been mailed in bulk from three individual mailboxes, including more than 300 rubber-banded together form a mailbox in neighboring Haledon.
Caposela still needs to sign off on the settlement of a new election, something that could happen next week.
The special election, held concurrently with the general election, is likely to also include three other candidates who ran in the may non-partisan race: Sharrieff Bugg, Robyn Spencer Chauncey Brown III.
Mendez, a former councilman-at-large, defeated McKoy by a vote of 1,595 to 1,350. Bugg finished third with 296 votes, followed by Spencer (118) and Brown (43).
Slightly less than 24% of registered voters turned out for the May election conducted entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.
More than 58% of all 3rd Ward voters cast their ballots in the 2016 general election.