Count it as one more way that anti-Trump hysteria skews news coverage: Story after story treats the fraud in this year’s Paterson, NJ, City Council election as somehow proving that nothing can go wrong with mass mail-in voting.
A judge this week ordered a re-vote on Nov. 3 for the 3rd Ward race, where “winner” Alex Mendez faces state fraud charges — as do 1st Ward Councilman Michael Jackson and two workers for 2nd Ward candidate Shahin Khalique’s campaign. (Khalique’s race ended in a tie and will also be re-voted in November.)
Weeks after the May election, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal charged the four with fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records and falsifying or tampering with records, and hit Mendez with added charges including election fraud.
Most of it revolved around improper “vote harvesting” — where an intermediary turns in your ballot for you.
And the charges don’t even cover the other signs of trouble — the hundreds of Paterson ballots found scattered across other Jersey towns or the 800 ballots tossed by the Passaic County Board of Elections over various improprieties. (In some parts of the Garden State, a full quarter of ballots got disqualified.)
You don’t have to buy the president’s claim that mass mail-in voting guarantees mass fraud to admit that the practice carries added risks, especially in areas where it’s an entirely new thing: Many voters will fail to carry out every step of the instructions, and so get their ballot rejected; some votes will get lost in the mail (which happens even in jurisdictions that have been doing this for years) — and some scammers will work to exploit a less-secure system.
And the pandemic will exacerbate every challenge: Many New Yorkers, for example, have found that daily mail delivery and pick-ups are now far from certain — raising the chances that you won’t get your ballot before the deadline.
Oh: By the way, the victims will be disproportionately poor and minority.
This doesn’t make it wrong to push for easier voting this year, but it’s nuts to deny the possibilities for fraud that officials need to address just because the president is pointing them out so loudly.
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