The father of councilman Shahin Khalique who passed away two years ago is recorded as having cast a ballot in the city’s 2nd Ward election which took place in May of this year, according to a review of election records.
Khalique’s father Abdul Khalique, who died on July 20th, 2014, is listed as having voted in-person at the District Five polling site in the 2nd Ward on May 10th, 2016, according to Passaic County election records.
Shona Mack-Pollock, the deputy superintendent of elections in Passaic County, confirmed an Abdul Khalique domiciled at 19 Rossiter Avenue voted in the 2nd Ward election.
“My father did not vote,” said Khalique. He said there are several people in the 2nd Ward who have the same name as his father, one of whom may have mistakenly utilized his father’s name to vote.
Including his father, there are four people with that name on voter rolls as having cast ballots in the 2nd Ward election. He pointed to one particular Abdul Khalique who resides at 385 Preakness Avenue.
“He voted at the same center. He probably signed in the wrong place,” alleged Khalique. He said it appears to be a case of mistaken identity. If the Abdul Khalique from Preakness Avenue “mistakenly” voted under the councilman’s father’s name the records would show one vote. At present, both the deceased and the alive Abdul Khaliques are listed as having cast ballots in the 2nd Ward, say the councilman’s opponents.
“Astaghfirullah,” remarked Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman employing a phrase used by Muslims to express shame and disapproval. “I’m shocked.”
Former councilman Akhtaruzzaman lost to Khalique by 20 votes in that election. He has since filed a trove of documents in the New Jersey Superior Court alleging widespread voter fraud in the May elections. This case is scheduled for trial in mid-September.
The Passaic County superintendent of elections Sherine El-Abd opened an investigation into accusation of voter fraud prior to the election. Her office has expanded this investigation several times as more and more issues emerge delaying a final report. She is on leave this week.
“I highly doubt that he would do such a disgraceful and illegal tactic as to use his dead father’s vote to win an election,” said Akhtaruzzaman in disbelief. When asked if his campaign had anything to do with it, Khalique emphatically denied it.
“My campaign had nothing to do with it,” said Khalique. Akhtaruzzaman wasn’t the only one shocked by the revelation that a deceased individual voted in the 2nd Ward election.
“No way. Oh my God. Wow,” said former councilman Aslon Goow. He said he heard rumors, but did not believe it. He was surprised that it was an in-person vote rather than a mail-in ballot.
The councilman’s deceased father’s name remained on the voter rolls because the family did not report he had died and request his removal from the list. “If we don’t get that information from the family then we can’t delete the person from the system,” said Mack-Pollock.
A reporter visited multiple grave yards to verify the death of Khalique’s father. “Vital statistics are not public information,” said Corinne Marotta of the Wayne Township clerk’s office in response to a request submitted to verify the death. Khalique’s family’s lived in Wayne prior to moving to Paterson.
Khalique suggested it’s not his job to notify the election officials about the death of his father. “It’s the job of the election commission,” he said.
Mack-Pollock said the other way the county is able to delete deceased voters is by confirming their death with state data. However, in this case, a conversion error left the father’s birthday as 1800, in election records.
“We can’t confirm it if we don’t have the exact date of birth,” said Mack-Pollock. She said the sample election ballots ask residents to return ballots if the person does not live at a particular address or is deceased.