A California city councilman has been arrested and may have resigned his seat after officials discovered at his residence dozens of allegedly fraudulent ballots from the 2020 election.
Shakir Khan, 33, was first elected to serve on the city council of Lodi, California, about 15 miles north of Stockton, in 2020. Like many city council races, his election was close. The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office estimated that he won the seat by just 282 votes.
But now that victory has been called into question after sheriff's deputies reportedly discovered 41 sealed and completed 2020 mail-in ballots in Khan's home. Officials also believe that 23 people used Khan's address on their voter registration forms and another 47 people used Khan's email address and phone number on theirs.
When questioned, several of Khan's constituents in District 4 allegedly told police that he pressured them to vote for him or otherwise took advantage of their ignorance of the voting process. Law enforcement even claimed that after Khan learned that he was the subject of an investigation, he posted a video to social media and, in his native Urdu language, urged people to "say that you filled out your ballot if you are questioned."
"Our investigation uncovered that councilman Shakir Khan has attempted to undermine, manipulate, and violate one of our most fundamental rights here in our country, and that is the right to free and fair elections," said Sheriff Pat Withrow. Withrow also added that Khan apparently targeted the Pakistani community in particular.
According to an Instagram post from the sheriff's office, Khan was arrested and charged with:
- causing/procuring/allowing false voter registration of self/another person,
- submission of fraudulent registration to the secretary of state,
- submission of fraudulent candidacy petition,
- aiding/abetting the commission of fraud at any election,
- subscription of fictitious names to nomination petitions,
- false nomination/declaration of candidacy,
- fraudulently casting votes, and
- procuring/assisting/counseling/advising another not qualified to vote.
While Khan was still in custody, Lodi Mayor Mikey Hothi successfully convinced Khan to sign a handwritten letter to resign his position from the city council, and Hothi later had that letter stamped by the city clerk. However, Khan and his lawyer, Allen Sawyer, deny that Khan has resigned. Sawyer claimed that Khan signed the resignation letter "under duress" and called any claims about his resignation "premature." Khan reaffirmed to reporters that he intends to continue serving on the council, despite the letter.