The Passaic County superintendent of elections this week forwarded a partial investigation report containing the names of 13 individuals, who allegedly cast mail-in ballots in the 2nd Ward election without residing in the ward, to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution.
“There are some people who do not live in Paterson and voted. They’re certainly entitled to vote where they live. You can’t live in Clifton, Totowa, or New York and vote in Paterson,” said Passaic County superintendent of elections Sherine El-Abd on Thursday afternoon.
El-Abd’s office expected to complete the investigation prompted by allegations of mail-in voter fraud in the 2nd Ward election back in April this week, but three of her investigations were away delaying the final investigation report.
“We are out three investigators. So I don’t have any investigators this week,” said El-Abd. She said two of the investigators were rear ended badly on River Street while returning from an assignment and a third is on vacation.
Despite the manpower shortage, her office has been able to complete a partial investigation. El-Abd said she sent the partial investigation report to the attorney general on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a message for comment on Friday morning.
The investigation report identifies 13 people not domiciled in the 2nd Ward, but voted in the May election.
“From day one we’ve been screaming there’s a lot of fraud going on,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, former 2nd Ward councilman, who lost the election by 20 votes. He lost to newcomer Shahin Khalique, whose 18-month long campaign culminated in a victory largely based on mail-in ballots.
Khalique finished last at the polls, but secured a victory with 1,010 mail-in votes. His final tally after a recount was 1,401 votes and Akhtaruzzaman’s 1,381.
During the election Khalique was accused of using questionable methods to exploit mail-in votes. He touted having secured 1,000 mail-in votes a week before the election. Those accusations have been strengthened by Akhtaruzzaman, who launched a lawsuit set for trial in September to nullify Khalique’s victory.
Akhtaruzzaman’s court filling alleges 25 men working for Khalique’s campaign handled more than 221 mail-in ballots in the campaign headquarters’ back office. Private investigator Steve Olimpio identified 40 voters, who cast ballots in the 2nd Ward without living in the ward.
In all, the former councilman is alleging more than 260 allegedly fraudulent mail-in ballots were cast in the election in various court filings. He said he expected the superintendent of elections to have identified more individuals based on the evidence that was submitted to her office during the election.
“I want those people to pay the consequences,” said Akhtaruzzaman. He said he hopes the attorney general’s office will prosecute those individuals and “render justice.”
Both Akhtaruzzaman and Khalique’s legal teams are eager for the elections superintendent’s final report. Both sides will have to wait.
El-Abd said the partial report will have to be made public by the attorney general’s office. As to the final report, she said: “I couldn’t give you an intelligent estimate at this point.”
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