Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all voting in New Jersey’s May 12 special elections was done by mail-in ballot. The process did not exactly go smoothly, with problems reported in several districts. Ballots were rejected at a far higher rate than in the 2018 general election; an NJ Spotlight analysis found about one in 10 ballots were rejected, often because of issues with signatures.
The most notable problem area was Paterson, where there were allegations of voter fraud. Hundreds of ballots were found bundled in mailboxes in South Paterson and Haledon. More than 3,200 ballots, 19% of those cast, were rejected in Paterson.
Charges of voting fraud in connection with the May 12 election were announced Thursday against two Paterson politicians, City Councilman Michael Jackson and Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez. Two other men were also charged. An announcement from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office said all four have been charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.
Several of the charges relate to the improper collection of mail-in ballots. Jackson, who is 1st Ward Councilman and Council Vice President, is charged with fraud in casting mail-in vote, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records. Mendez, who is 3rd Ward Councilman-Elect, is charged with election fraud, fraud in casting mail-in vote, unauthorized possession of ballots, false registration or transfer, tampering with public records, and falsifying or tampering with records. Charges also have been brought against Shelim Khalique of Wayne and Abu Razyen of Prospect Park. All deny the charges.