As New Jersey plows ahead with plans to hold the November elections mostly by mail, a judge has ordered a redo of a local election held largely by mail earlier this year after the results were marred by accusations of fraud.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled Wednesday that a new election must be held in the city of Paterson after the winner of a city council seat was charged with voter fraud, according to The Associated Press.
Alex Mendez was declared victorious after a special election on May 12 to fill the seat.
But he did not celebrate for long.
An investigation into the election results was initiated after the New Jersey attorney general’s office was informed by U.S. Postal Service investigators that hundreds of mail-in ballots were located in a mailbox in Paterson, and even more were discovered in the nearby borough of Haledon.
Ballots cast by 800 voters were ultimately not counted.
William McKoy, who was defeated by Mendez, successfully sought an injunction to have Mendez prevented from being sworn in.
Four people, including Mendez, were soon charged with voter fraud. Among the other three individuals suspected of voter fraud is Paterson Council Vice President Michael Jackson.
The election will now be held again in November.
President Donald Trump, a staunch opponent of universal mail-in voting, has cited the Paterson election as evidence that mail-in voting is vulnerable to fraud.
“Absentee Ballots are fine. A person has to go through a process to get and use them. Mail-In Voting, on the other hand, will lead to the most corrupt Election is USA history,” he tweeted on June 28.
“Bad things happen with Mail-Ins. Just look at Special Election in Patterson, N.J. 19% of Ballots a FRAUD!” he added.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy downplayed the suspected fraud in the Paterson election last week when he decreed that the state’s November elections would be held mostly by mail.
“We have a higher probability of being hit by lightning than we do uncovering voter fraud,” he said Friday on CNN.
CNN host John Berman was dismissive of Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting.
Berman, who admitted Paterson’s election had been tainted by allegations of voter fraud, described criticism of mail-in voting from Trump as “baseless.”
Murphy announced later Friday that all registered voters in his state — roughly 6.2 million people — will automatically receive ballots in the mail.
“As much as we enjoy the time-honored traditions of joining our neighbors in a line to cast our ballots on Election Day … and as much as we are energized by seeking packed polling places, we must recognize that this is not a regular election year,” Murphy said at a news briefing.
The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit against the state over the decision to send out millions of ballots by mail, according to CNN.