And here I thought we had it on the highest authority that mail-in balloting didn’t have more risk for fraud and manipulation. Don’t tell that to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who just indicted four men for voter fraud connected to hundreds of fraudulent mail-in ballots. Two of suspects are city council members in Paterson, in fact:
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced voting fraud charges against 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson, 3rd Ward Council-Elect Alex Mendez and two other men, weeks after the May 12 local election in which the Passaic County Board of Elections decided not to count 800 city ballots found scattered across different municipalities.
Both Jackson, 48, and Mendez, 45, were charged with fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records and falsifying or tampering with records, according to the statement. Mendez was additionally charged with election fraud and false registration or transfer.
Along with Jackson and Mendez, two Passaic County men, Shelim Khalique, 51, of Wayne, and Abu Razyen, 21, of Prospect Park, were also charged.
The investigation was sparked by reports that hundreds of mail-in ballots were found in a mailbox in Paterson and in a mailbox in Haledon. The coronavirus pandemic has forced voters to mail in their ballots, as voting sites are no longer open.
This can’t be! We have been assured repeatedly by our elite that mail-in balloting doesn’t create more risks for voter fraud than normal voting. If that’s really the case, it might be the most depressing part of this story arc.
Mark Hemingway says the actual problem may have been in the thousands — and that it came close to 20% of all voting in the election:
In the City Council election, 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots were received, but only 13,557 votes were counted. More than 3,190 votes, 19% of the total ballots cast, were disqualified by the board of elections. Due to the pandemic, Paterson’s election was done through vote-by-mail. Community organizations, such as the city’s NAACP chapter, are calling for the entire election to be invalidated. …
Reporting by NBC further uncovered citizens of Paterson who are listed as having voted, but who told the news outlet they never received a ballot and did not vote. One woman, Ramona Javier, after being shown the list of people on her block who allegedly voted, told the outlet she knew of eight family members and neighbors who were wrongly listed. “We did not receive vote-by-mail ballots and thus we did not vote,” she said. “This is corruption. This is fraud.”
There were multiple reports that large numbers of mail-in ballots were left on the lobby floors of apartment buildings and not delivered to residents’ individual mailboxes, further casting doubt on the integrity of the election.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of fraud, either. North Carolina needed to hold a special election to deal with “ballot harvesting” fraud that took place in its 9th CD election in the 2018 midterms. Remember that the operative at the center of that fraud had over 800 mail-in ballots in his possession for the general election, and might have manipulated the primary that defeated the sitting GOP incumbent. Republican Dan Bishop won the special election, but the entire mess pointed up the risk factors of massive mail-in ballots.
This provides a more on-point warning. This was just a municipal election, but it still resulted in “hundreds” of fraudulent ballots that may well have changed the outcome of the race had they been used. Multiply that into the scale of voting needed for House, Senate, and presidential elections — and the increasing stakes of the outcomes for those offices — and it’s not difficult at all to see a potentially massive nightmare coming in November.
The only reliable and secure method for voting is in-person casting of paper ballots, preferably using scan technology for efficient counting. That not only allows for better voting security, it also means that we can get the results quickly enough for confidence in the system and a proper transition period if necessary. Putting tens of millions of ballots into a mode of non-secure transmission via mailboxes and the hands of others between the individual voter and the counting is practically an invitation for fraud — as Paterson and New Jersey discovered.
One last note: The charges won’t stop Jackson or Mendez from getting sworn into office on July 1, PIX11 news notes. Both men are protesting their innocence, so don’t expect them to resign in disgrace in the next few days.
Correction: The headline on this was incorrect, and conflated two different aspects of this case. The hundreds of ballots discovered after the election were not necessarily themselves fraudulent, but appear to have been fraudulently collected and held. The charges against the four men relate to mail-in ballot fraud and voter fraud, but not (yet) with the hundreds of ballots discovered. I have changed the headline accordingly. Thanks to Alex Wingate and Whey Standard on Twitter for pointing this out.