The Deputy Speaker of the New Jersey State Assembly said Paterson voters “should be concerned” about ongoing fraud allegations surrounding the mail-by-vote council election.
“Harvesting votes of any kind should be a red flag for any person who is a resident, not just law enforcement,” Benjie Wimberly Paterson said. “We do not want our voters to become disenfranchised.”
Wimberly spoke out after a series of NBC New York reports that highlighted allegations of fraud in the Paterson election. Bundles of mail-in Paterson city ballots were allegedly found in a single mailbox in neighboring Haledon, other bundles allegedly found in city mailboxes, and numerous residents have complained they never received ballots. There are allegations the board of elections has received votes from residents who say they never voted.
Wimberly is concerned there may have been an organized effort by some campaigns to steal the vote. “If there is no wrongdoing then there is no wrongdoing. But if there is wrongdoing, then we have to harshly address so it doesn’t keep peeking its head out when it comes to elections,” Wimberly said.
More video has surfaces of stacks of ballots being left in in building lobbies and not placed in mailboxes. The postal service has said it is conducting a review of how ballots were delivered and received amid criticism not only in Paterson but in other towns like Belleville. The Belleville mayor estimates at least 10 percent of all voters won’t have their votes counted properly – a percentage that could make a difference in the outcome of a local race.
In Paterson, the battle over ballot stuffing isn’t the only fight brewing in this election. Last week, a video posted on InsiderNJ.com showed a supporter of one candidate allegedly chasing a rival candidate with sticks. A police report alleging an assault was filed.
The vote of the council elections are expected to be announced Tuesday by the Passaic County Board of Elections. Already, at least 800 votes have been set aside amid the corruption allegations. The council helps control nearly $300 million in Paterson city spending.
While one source said federal and state investigators were discussing setting up a task force to investigate the latest corruption allegation, spokespeople for the state attorney general, US Attorney and FBI again declined to say whether an investigation was underway.
“I have faith in law enforcement that they will get to the bottom of this,” Wimberly said.