Citing widespread voter fraud, including theft of vote-by-mail ballots, longtime councilman William McKoy is asking the New Jersey Superior Court to invalidate the results of the 3rd Ward race and order a special election.
“In just a few weeks with limited resources, we have uncovered a deep and systemic problem with the way this election was conducted, at seemingly every level. However, we are most concerned with what appears to be a concerted effort to steal this election through a massive voter fraud program,” said McKoy’s attorney Scott D. Salmon on Sunday. “As an elections lawyer, I can say with some expertise that voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, and it is precisely because it is so rare that what happened in Paterson stands out like a sore thumb. Ultimately, we believe that it is impossible to tell with any reasonable certainty who actually won this election, and so we call on all other candidates to join us in demanding a new election, one that is fair, free, and results in a true expression of the will of the public.”
Salmon’s 38-page court complaint states former councilman Alex Mendez, who is ahead of the McKoy by 240 votes, allegedly tried to steal the election.
Mendez’s campaign allegedly had someone named, YaYa Luis Mendez, stealing ballots out of mailboxes. YaYa Luis Mendez “confessed” to investigators from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of stealing ballots from mailboxes, according to the court complaint.
“We were not involved. I don’t even know what he is talking about,” said Mendez of the allegation his campaign directed people to steal ballots. “He’s a sore loser. They lost big time. I haven’t seen their lawsuit. I’m not paying attention to that.”
Mendez campaign allegedly built a database of signatures over the past years, going as far back as 2012, says the complaint. Signatures were collected from voter forms and candidate petitions, alleges the complaint. These signatures allegedly allowed them to fill out the stolen ballots and mail them to the board of elections.
McKoy’s complaint also blames the board of elections and the U.S. Postal Services for problems that arose in the election. Nearly a quarter of votes in the 3rd Ward race were rejected because of problems such as mismatched signatures and incomplete bearer portion.
“The fact that 25% of Paterson’s Third Ward residents were disenfranchised is unacceptable. Every Paterson voter’s voice should and must be heard in order to ensure a fair and open election process. Many have given their life for our right to vote, so we must honor their sacrifices as we exercise our constitutional right to elect our representatives,” said McKoy.
Both state and federal law enforcement agencies have launched investigations into the Paterson municipal elections that were solely conducted by vote-by-mail ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mendez has accused mayor Andre Sayegh of using the police force to intimidate voters after the elections. Police officers, including a member of the mayor’s security detail, accompanied state investigators as they interviewed voters, according to sources.
Mendez on Friday urged the City Council to investigate the matter.
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Updated at 6:38 p.m. with comments from Mendez.