IRVINGTON, NJ — The recent Irvington election season has been one for the books. Team Irvington Strong had a big win, with Orlander Glen Vick, Jamillah Beasley, Sean C. Evans and Vern Cox emerging as the winners in a sweep against their opponents. But a suspicion of ballot tampering has caused a temporary stoppage of the counting of mail-in ballots in two Irvington Ward council races. Now, according to multiple sources, an in-depth investigation is underway.
According to reports, the suspension of counting did not cause the vote tallying in Irvington to take longer than in the other five Essex County municipalities with May 12 elections. Results for all elections were posted online by the County Clerk’s Office and updated the evening of Friday, May 15, certifying all municipalities. The brief cessation of ballot tallying did not delay result certification, sources told the Irvington Herald.
Reports are claiming that more than 600 ballots, which were not counted because of suspected tampering, contained handwritten responses with just three different writing styles, all from the North and West wards. Based on this, according to multiple sources, it seems as though three people filled in 600 ballots, equivalent to three people having voted 600 times in total.
As a result, an accusation of ballot fraud has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for criminal investigation.
These questionable ballots were for the council member elections in the North and West wards, where ultimately West Ward Councilman Vern Cox beat challenger Destin Nicolas and North Ward Councilman Orlander Glen Vick beat challenger Micano Evra.
Pasteur Ralph Cadet, an auxiliary policeman in Irvington, who was contacted by the Irvington Herald but declined to comment, posted a message on his Facebook page late last month, urging voters to call Evra and Nicolas and to give them their ballots.
Evra and Nicolas both denied any knowledge of write-in ballots.
“I’m not involved in any voter fraud,” Evra told the Irvington Herald on May 22. “There were so many votes that were counted. If there was any voter fraud, it might be involved elsewhere. There are so many votes that haven’t been counted. From the county clerk, where the people cast the vote, we get the information. We saw 1,600 votes in the North Ward and West Ward was around 1,120. I have no control over the county and the city. I was not involved in that.”
“No. I have no knowledge of the allegations against myself and Micano,” Nicolas told the Irvington Herald on May 22. “Also, what they did every day was the county clerk sends the list of the voters that cast their vote. The North Ward had 1,600 and the West Ward had close to 1,200. When you look at the unofficial result, they said they only counted 40 votes for the West on election night. They stopped counting because they suspected voter fraud.
“The next day, which was Wednesday, we went to see our lawyer, because we suspected something wasn’t right. Both Orlander Glen Vick and Vern Cox, since we began running, have been accused of allegations and tactics to kick us off the ballot. When you look at the unofficial result in the North, they only count 1,020 votes. In the West, they only count 729 votes,” he continued. “Now, this is the third time I ran for council. In 2014, for councilman at large, I had 1,400 votes. Then, during the municipal election, I won the West back then. In the North, I lost by a margin of six to seven votes. I challenged Vern Cox six months later. I had 640 votes and Vern Cox had 900 votes. So, ever since then, I did not participate. I just stayed active. People of the community were urging me to get back in because they said I deserve to be in that seat.
“This year, I’ve worked hard, I have much more maturity, and alliance,” he continued. “Now, the votes make no sense because it was only 207 votes. It makes no sense because Cox had 519 votes. The math doesn’t add up when you compare my two previous elections and I have much more experience and more maturity. Both Micano and I have nothing to do with the voter fraud. We had a very strong campaign and we were able to get the message out there.”
Evra had more to say.
“Ralph Cadet, an auxiliary policeman in Irvington, posted that post on Facebook and I had no idea that was posted until I saw it in the newspaper,” Evra said. “It’s not related to my campaign and it was never related to our campaign. It might be a set up. It might be Irvington Strong’s doing. The day of the election, Glen Vick was in the county building all day. Now, I’m wondering why he was there, and I question that.”
Vick quashed that insinuation, saying he was there because he works in the building.
“I’m a facilities manager at the Essex County Hall of Records location responsible for Orange, East Orange and downtown Newark,” Vick told the Irvington Herald on May 22.
In response to Nicolas’ statement toward Vick and Cox, of tactics being used to kick him and Evra off the ballot when the two began running, Vick and Cox’s lawyer, Avram White, fought back and raised the question as to where Evra and Nicolas reside.
“I wouldn’t call it a tactic,” White told the Irvington Herald on May 22. “There was credible information that the county officials, Superintendent of Elections Edna Baugh, had deactivated the voter registrations of Nicolas and Evra. My clients, Orlander Glen Vick and Vern Cox, were aware of information regarding that. The thing is, if they’re not appropriately registered in Irvington, they can’t be on the ballot. They were placed in inactive status. The superintendent of elections doesn’t do that without reason, and there’s a reason behind that.
“Prior to late March,” he continued, “they were already placed in inactive status by Edna Baugh. This brought up the question if they are Irvington residents. One of the candidates tried to be in a prior election, but he wasn’t a resident of Irvington. He lived in Newark, and you have to be an Irvington resident for at least a year if you want to be on the ballot. He was not a resident and he voted in Newark. You vote where you reside.”