Two charged with vote-by-mail fraud tied to Elizabeth schools election

Two people are accused of vote-by-mail fraud associated with the Elizabeth Board of Education election that took place last fall, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.

Felicia Simmons, 36, of Asbury Park and Melvin Howell, 49, of Elizabeth, each is charged with third-degree vote-by-mail fraud.

A complaint filed with the Office of the Union County Clerk sparked an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit that culminated with the charges being filed this week. The investigation revealed that during the time period leading up to the election, both Simmons and Howell were helping Elizabeth voters fill out applications to vote by mail.

However, Howell was found to have allegedly filled out such applications for voters who didn’t exist, according to the investigation, which also revealed that Simmons falsely claimed to have assisted an ineligible voter.

The charges against Simmons and Howell were served via summons Tuesday morning, and both defendants are expected to make their first appearances in court next week.

Convictions on third-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by 3 to 5 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.