On Wednesday, a state superior court judge in New Jersey ordered that a new election must be held for a city council seat in Paterson, after over 3,000 ballots returned by mail were disqualified, according to the Daily Caller.
The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed against Alex Mendez, who initially appeared to win the election that was originally held on May 12th. The lawsuit was filed by Councilman William McKoy, who appeared to have been defeated by Mendez, in an effort to block Mendez from taking the seat. Mendez, along with three other members of the Paterson city council, was charged with voter fraud after an investigation by the United States Postal Service found hundreds of mail-in ballots hidden in a single mailbox.
Overall, 800 mail-in ballots were rejected by the Passaic County Board of Elections, with another 2,300 deemed ineligible due to their signatures not matching the signatures that were held on file by the board of elections. These roughly 3,100 votes amounted to about 22 percent of all ballots cast in the race, thus necessitating a new election.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D-N.J.) released a statement saying that “today’s charges send a clear message: If you try to tamper with an election in New Jersey, we will find you and we will hold you accountable.”
The Paterson scandal is indicative of the fragile and unreliable nature of elections conducted entirely by vote-by-mail, which has come under fire from President Donald Trump even as Democrats across the country push for such a system to be implemented for the November election.
The Trump campaign sued the state of New Jersey for attempting to use vote-by-mail in the upcoming election, and despite the Paterson scandal, Governor Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) defended vote-by-mail and criticized the lawsuit, claiming that it will “delegitimize our November election instead of working with us to ensure that voter rights are upheld, alongside public health.”