The proliferation of large number of mail-in ballots and the questionable practices being utilized to gather them in the 2nd Ward has pushed the Passaic County Superintendent of Elections to expand her initial investigation into a phony letter to include mail-in ballots.
Passaic County Superintendent of Elections Sherine El-Abd confirmed her office is investigating the questionable mail-in ballot practices in the 2nd Ward.
“We’re doing an investigation that includes that. It’s not just that,” said El-Abd on Tuesday morning.
Investigators from her office visited a voter, who was allegedly deceived by an individual indirectly connected to the Shahin Khalique campaign, into submitting a mail-in application using a 2nd Ward address, when she did not live in the 2nd Ward, according to the voter who did not wish to be named.
The voter said she was visited by Passaic County investigators, but did not know whether the investigators were from the Prosecutor’s Office or the Superintendent of Elections’ Office.
“I have no information to release on that matter,” said Cinda Adams, spokeswoman for the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. The investigators who visited the voter were from the Superintendent of Elections’ Office, confirmed El-Abd.
The questionable practices in the 2nd Ward include voters’ ballots being forwarded to controlled addresses, voters being pressured to fill out mail-in ballots supporting a specific candidate, and in a number of cases voters were moved from elsewhere in the city to addresses in the ward.
Candidates in the 2nd Ward welcomed the investigation into the mail-in ballots. “Good. I hope that expansion is very wide,” said Gonzalez pointing to the widespread “abuse” of mail-in ballots.
Gonzalez said many of his voters were pressured into obtaining mail-in ballots and then were allegedly hounded by Khalique’s campaign workers until the ballots were completed and mailed.
Gonzalez said some of Khalique’s campaign workers are paying individuals to gather mail-in votes. He said one individual admitted she allegedly collected 8 to 10 mail-in ballots for Khalique under the promise that she would receive a present.
Khalique denied paying anyone for mail-in votes. He said Gonzalez is “spreading rumors” because he is “scared.”
The mail-in collector allegedly received a gift basket from the Khalique campaign that was filled with one-dollar items, said Gonzalez. There are allegedly cases where Khalique’s campaign workers are withholding mail-in ballots that belong to voters.
“We’re not holding nobody’s ballots,” said Khalique repudiating allegations against his campaign.
“I’ve never seen a ward election with so many absentees,” said incumbent Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman. 1,440 mail-in ballots have been processed by election officials. Of those 1,303 have been accepted and 137 were rejected due to signature mismatch.
So far 639 mail-in votes have been submitted to the board of elections.
Akhtaruzzaman said many of his supporters have complained about questionable practices Gonzalez cited.
Aslon Goow said the mail-in voting process is being “abused.”
“It’s about time,” said Goow of the expanded investigation. “If they are serious they will uncover a lot of illegal activity. It has become a real fiasco.”