Paterson: Mendez remains on top after recount in 3rd Ward race | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Paterson: Mendez remains on top after recount in 3rd Ward race

By Jayed Rahman
Published: June 2, 2020

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Former councilman Alex Mendez remained on top after a manual recounting of the ballots in the 3rd Ward race on Monday.

Mendez, who gained three ballots, is ahead by 240 votes.

McKoy gained eight votes in the recount.

Mendez received 1,598 votes while McKoy received 1,358 in the five-person race. Chauncey I. Brown, III received 43; Robyn Spencer received 118; Sharrieff Bugg received 298.

“Again, we are victorious with a margin of 240 votes above our opponent,” Mendez told his supporters on social media. “This victory is from God and our people of Paterson.”

But a recount is usually the first step towards a legal battle over the outcome of the election.

“We had minor changes in the numbers. It was still clear there were voters that were disenfranchised, votes that were cast that were still not included,” said McKoy on Tuesday morning.

McKoy said he has a meeting scheduled today with his attorney to discuss the next steps.

The minor changes in the 3rd Ward vote tallies has produced some cause for optimism in former councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman campaign.

Akhtaruzzaman fell short by eight votes in the unofficial vote count against incumbent Shahin Khalique.

Akhtaruzzaman has filed for a recount.

School board member Nakima Redmon, who is short 245 votes, has also filed for a recount.

McKoy, Akhtaruzzaman, and Redmon sued for recount using the same attorney, Scott Salmon. All three were backed by mayor Andre Sayegh in the race.

Sayegh backed six candidates. Three won and three lost. The winners were all incumbents. He could not get two of the challengers over the finish line, suggesting the mayor, who won a landslide victory two years earlier, may have to start worrying about his political future in Paterson.

Mendez is likely to run for mayor in two years.

Some see the mayor’s fingerprints on the recounts and court battles to come.

Political strategists have said the aim is to throw out the results and have fresh elections in the three wards.

“We’ll be evaluating that today,” said McKoy when asked if he is calling for the nullification of the 3rd Ward election results. “Outside of the recount. What is clear is there were rampant irregularities and illegal activities with regards to this election.”

The ward elections were marred by voter fraud and irregularities. State and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of voter fraud.

No one has been charged with any wrongdoing.

“Who is going to pay for those elections? What they have to do is count every vote. I’m a strong believer of the democracy of this nation. We should respect the voters,” said Mendez. “I really hope we can concentrate on moving the city forward. We’re facing a lot of challenges in our city and I think this is the time for us to come together.”

Mendez pointed out he was the first to demand the Passaic County Board of Elections count all the ballot in the state’s first solely vote-by-mail election triggered by the coronavirus pandemic when word got out election officials intended to set-aside hundreds of ballots found in bundles in postal boxes. He also physically went to the Board of Elections to tell them to count all the votes.

“I was demanding that every vote be counted. I went there,” said Mendez. He said some people laughed at him for going there.

“He lost the election. Now he wants every vote counted,” said Mendez speaking of McKoy.

20 percent of votes in the ward elections were disqualified for failure to enclose ballots, missing certificates, mismatched signatures, and incomplete bearer portion, according to Passaic County records.

A judge has yet to order recounts for the 1st and 2nd Ward races.

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