MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) - Atlantic City’s Republican mayor alleged Friday that a voter fraud scheme involving absentee ballots and dead voters is being run against him on behalf of his Democratic opponent.
Republican Mayor Don Guardian said during a press conference Friday that it has taken evidence of absentee ballot fraud to the Atlantic County prosecutor’s office and wants it to investigate before Tuesday’s election.
City Council President Frank Gilliam, his Democratic opponent, denied the allegations and said no one on his campaign would do anything illegal.
The prosecutor’s office did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday.
Guardian said his campaign has witnessed and heard accounts of votes being cast via absentee ballot in the name of dead people and people who no longer live in the seaside gambling resort. On Thursday, Atlantic County voting commissioners discarded a ballot from a woman they said had died in 2015.
“Stop the dead people from voting in Atlantic City,” said Guardian, who claims voters have been offered money to cast absentee ballots for Democrats.
Gilliam criticized Guardian for alleging fraud and said “it’s a total embarrassment to have a candidate that should be out trying to earn votes serving up such untruths.”
“He has more stories than Mother Goose,” Gilliam said.
The use of absentee ballots in Atlantic City has long been contentious and led to several voter fraud criminal cases, although they eventually fell apart in court.
Craig Callaway, the former Democratic City Council President who served a prison term for bribery, is leading an absentee voter effort. He said that work is legal and that he has done nothing wrong.
Gilliam said Callaway is not working for or getting paid by his campaign.
The county clerk’s office said it has received more than 2,500 absentee ballot applications for Atlantic City. These ballots frequently determine the winner of elections in the city. It is not uncommon for a candidate to receive a majority of votes cast on voting machines at polling places, only to wake up the next morning as the loser after absentee ballots have been counted.
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