Four people have been charged with voter fraud stemming from the May 12 special election in New Jersey.
Paterson, NJ, city councilman Michael Jackson, elected council member Alex Mendez, and two other men have been charged with voter fraud, according to NJ.com. This occurs after the Passaic County Board of Elections had chosen not to count 800 ballots in several different municipalities.
Jackson, 48, and Mendez, 45, were charged with fraud related to casting ballots by mail, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying public records. Méndez was also accused of electoral fraud.
Two others from Passaic County were also charged.
Authorities began investigating after reports emerged that hundreds of mail ballots were found in one mailbox in Paterson and another in Haledon.
“Today’s charges send a clear message: If you try to manipulate an election in New Jersey, we will find you and hold you accountable,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement Thursday. “We will not allow a small number of criminals to undermine the public’s trust in our democratic process.”
Mendez and Jackson are accused of reaching out to voters in the district and taking their ballots in the mail for unauthorized delivery as a bearer, and in Mendez’s case, he allegedly also acquired and filed at least one voter registration application for someone who knew he was not eligible to vote.
“While it is very disappointing to see another episode of possible corruption in Paterson, I continue to hope that this is the final chapter of what has unfortunately affected our city for generations,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said in a statement.
Election fraud, specifically voting by mail, has been a hot topic in recent months as Democrats push to expand voting by mail, citing fears of the coronavirus. Republicans often object, arguing that the mailing process is susceptible to fraud.