The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General found that vote-by-mail ballots were improperly delivered by letter carriers during the May non-partisan municipal elections, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
A postal worker has been fired over the incident.
The Paterson election has been mired in controversy. Four men, including two winners in council races, have been charged with ballot tampering by the state attorney general, and in one case, a judge blocked a councilman-elect, Alex Mendez, from taking his seat and appears on the verge of ordering a new election.
An investigation showed that the postal worker, whose name has not been released, misdelivered ballots and political mail and left them out in the open near cluster boxes at “numerous apartment buildings” along the postal route in Paterson.
Following a series of complaints, the USPS Inspector General launched an investigation that included video surveillance of the route. The letter carrier was photographed not putting ballots in individual mailboxes.
The postal worker told supervisors that his mailbox key was not working, according to a heavily-redacted report signed by Matthew Modafferi, the special agent in-charge of the USPS Inspector General northeast area field office.
There have been multiple reports of VBM ballots being left in bins on the floors of apartment buildings during recent elections, rather than be placed in individual mailboxes.
There were reports in Paterson of ballot harvesting.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela said last week that he would likely never be able to determine who won the 3rd Ward council race in Paterson.
Nearly 900 ballots that appear to have been mailed in bulk from three individual mailboxes, including more than 300 rubber-banded together from a mailbox in neighboring Haledon.
President Donald Trump has pointed to problems with the delivery of mail-in ballots as a reason to curtail expanded vote-by-mail in the upcoming presidential election.