Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly’s vote-by-mail ballot was rejected in this month’s Paterson municipal election, voting records show.
Wimberly, who serves as the deputy speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, voted in the hotly contested 3rd Ward election that pitted longtime incumbent William McKoy and former councilman Alex Mendez in the five-person race.
Wimberly endorsed McKoy early on in the race, indicating the assemblyman voted for the incumbent.
McKoy lost by more than 200 votes, according to unofficial election results released on Tuesday. He has filed a suit seeking a recount.
Wimberly wasn’t alone. His wife and two children’s ballots were also rejected.
The assemblyman could not be reached for comments on Friday night.
“Are you kidding me? Based on what?” asked McKoy when told of the assemblyman’s vote being rejected. “I find that unbelievable. But it illustrates the rampant disenfranchisement of the voters.”
An error with the statewide voter records system did not display the reason for rejection on Friday.
Election officials conducted signature verifications last week to determine whether to reject or accept ballots.
Other prominent residents and their families also had their votes rejected.
In the 3rd Ward. Former school board member William “Kemper” McDowell and his wife had their ballots rejected.
Passaic County freeholder Theodore “TJ” Best’s wife’s ballot was rejected.
Former school board member Danilo Inoa’s vote was also rejected. Four of his family member’s votes were rejected as well.
In the 2nd Ward. Former school board member Eddie Gonzalez had his vote rejected.
Former councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman’s mother’s vote was rejected. Akhtaruzzaman was one of three candidates in the 2nd Ward race.
Several members of the incumbent Shahin Khalique’s extended family had their votes rejected.
In the 1st Ward. Activist Ernest Rucker’s ballot was sent to 197 Market Street. He left that address long ago. It’s the responsibility of the voter to change their address. He said he did not vote in the race. However, Rucker’s ballot was returned to the Board of Elections.
Rucker’s purported vote was rejected.
“This was the biggest mess in modern history in this town,” said Rucker. He has aggressively attacked the use of mail-in ballots, accusing anyone who benefits from mail-in votes of having committed voter fraud, long before governor Phil Murphy ordered a solely vote-by-mail ballot election for May 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Murphy’s decision has led to disastrous consequences in the Paterson ward races. 16,750 votes were cast in the six ward elections. 3,204 of them were rejected for various reasons, including signature mismatch.
Approximately 20 percent of all Paterson votes were rejected.
The election was marred by allegation of voter fraud. Hundreds of ballots were found bundled in mailboxes in Paterson and Haledon. Both the U.S. Postal Service and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office are investigating allegations of voter fraud.
“I’m really shocked at the level of disenfranchisement that has been heaped upon the voters of the 3rd Ward,” said McKoy. “I call on the Board of Elections and the County Clerk to do a top to bottom examination of the process before they go ahead and certify the votes.”
McKoy said if they are unable to do that the results of the May 12 election should be “thrown out.”
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