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AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Democrats and their media surrogates have uniformly chosen to reject any notion that voting by mail could result in fraudulent results, despite ample evidence to the contrary. But against their narrative, four men in New Jersey were indicted last week for committing voter fraud related to mail-in ballots. 

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced on Thursday that current Paterson City Council Vice President Michael Jackson along with Councilman-elect Alex Mendez were being charged along with two others in fraud related to the May 12 election. According to the charges, all four men are facing multiple counts of ballot tampering and incorrect ballot handling related to the election. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paterson election for city council members faced the unique obstacle of being relegated only to vote-by-mail, something President Trump has lambasted throughout the national crisis. On election day, Jackson and Mendez, along with Shelim Khalique, brother of councilman Shahin Khalique, and Abu Razyen allegedly violated several election laws by collecting said mail-in ballots from voters's homes and incorrectly delivering them to the Board of Elections. 

Jackson is further charged with possessing ballots that were not his nor was he assigned the bearer. One of those ballots was reportedly unsealed and unmarked by a voter but was later turned in to the Board of Elections sealed. Mendez is also charged with registering voters he knew to be ineligible to vote in the municipal election. 

The reported actions of these four men caused one in five ballots cast on the May 12 election to be removed as ineligible. More than 3,000 ballots were ruled by the Board of Election to be unqualified for counting. 

Suspicion about the election was first raised by the US Postal Inspection Service, who noticed ballots bundled together in mailboxes in an unusual way. But the majority of the disqualified ballots, 2,300, were rejected by the Board of Elections for bearing signatures that did not match the registered voter record. Investigations revealed that many registered voters whose ballots were delivered with a signature to the Board of Elections never even received their mail-in ballot and certainly didn't vote. 

The results, now tainted by fraud, also painted a picture of razor thin results which saw the accused councilman-elect winning by just 240 votes. Shahin Khalique, whose brother is also facing charges of fraud, won by just eight votes on the first count. A video posted to social media of a man thought to be Razyen handing in a large stack of ballots he said were votes for Khalique has also surfaced. 

Despite calls from the governor and the local chapter of the NAACP to step aside as the charges of fraud are further investigated, both Jackson and Mendez have maintained their innocence, despite evidence against them. A Passaic County judge said on Tuesday, however, that Mendez will not be able to take his elected seat on July 1 as planned. That injunction will prevent Mendez from participating in the council until at least after his first hearing, which is currently scheduled for August. 

"Based on these accusations, Council member Jackson and Council member-elect Mendez must step aside as this investigation progresses,” Gov. Murphy (D)  said on Friday. “Anything else undermines the public’s sacred trust in democracy." 

But the trust in our electoral system amid the unprecedented shutdowns and procedural changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic is already shaken. Despite months of warnings by conservatives that mail-in voting opens the door to fraud at an unprecedented level, Democratic leaders have insisted that this method of choosing elected leaders is just as reliable and effective as in-person voting. 

On the contrary, this case proves that mail-in voting is particularly vulnerable to fraud. If nearly 25 percent of ballots handed in just in one municipal election conducted via vote by mail resulted in disqualification, conducting the general election in November by the same method would give Americans no confidence that they had participated in a fair election. 

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