by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Even as New Jersey voters look to the general election, many are still coping with the aftermath of the state’s first all-mail vote.
Paterson, the Garden State’s third-largest city, is mired in a burgeoning election scandal. One in 5 ballots have been rejected. The local NAACP has cried foul. And now, four men—including a councilman and councilman-elect—have been charged by the state’s attorney general with criminal election fraud.
The state’s May 12 election was conducted entirely by mail on Gov. Phil Murphy’s order. Ballots were automatically sent to every registration. That makes Paterson an early test of the vote-by-mail model now being pushed in unison by the political left.
The fact that it immediately went off the rails is a warning to the nation that we would be foolish to ignore.
Concerns began mounting before voting had even ended. Undeliverable ballots piled up in trash cans and apartment lobbies. Even though state law forbids anyone from collecting more than three ballots, roughly 800 ballots were found bundled together—400 were stuffed into one mailbox, and 360 more were found in another in a completely different town.
That evidence of illegal vote harvesting led officials to reject them all.
An additional 1,214 votes were disqualified because the voters’ signatures did not match official records, and 1,000 more because the “bearer”—the person who collected and delivered the vote—didn’t properly report doing so.
Voters reported never receiving ballots even though they are listed as having voted. In other words, someone else purportedly cast their votes.
Ultimately, nearly 20% of ballots cast on May 12 were invalidated. Paterson NAACP leader the Rev. Kenneth Clayton summed it up best: “These kinds of acts make people not want to vote anymore.”
Unsurprisingly, the four people recently indicted face charges that they illegally possessed or tampered with ballots.