Associated Press File Photo / Dave Turnier processes mail-in ballots at at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election there in May.

Every week the drumbeat by Democrats that America must have mail-in balloting for president in November grows louder. And every week included in those pleas is the mantra that mail-in balloting is safe and that any illegalities found are negligible.

National Democrats, meet Paterson, New Jersey, which is considered a strongly Democratic city and where a recent city council election was conducted by mail.

Late last week, two Paterson councilmen and two others linked to a councilman's campaign were charged with election fraud, mail-in voting fraud and illegal possession of mail-in ballots.

The state's Democratic attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, indicated that almost 20% of votes were thrown out by the Board of Elections.

How bad must the fraud have been if a Democratic attorney general came down heavily on a Democratic stronghold when the party's national mantra is that mail-in balloting is perfectly safe?

Of course, this is one heavily Democratic city in one heavily Democratic state. Imagine how much mail fraud is possible across the country.

The charges were made against Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, both Democrats, and Shelim Khalique and Abu Razyen.

Khalique is the brother of Paterson City Councilman Shahin Khalique, who was behind the city becoming the third in the country to allow daily Islamic calls to prayer over public loudspeakers, and Razyen is linked to Khalique's re-election campaign, according to Grewal.

Jackson, 48, is charged with third-degree fraud in casting a mail-in vote, third-degree unauthorized possession of ballots, third-degree tampering with public records, and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.

He is alleged to have collected mail-in ballots from voters in the recent election and delivered them to the Passaic County Board of Elections. The charges say he did not identify himself when he dropped off the ballots and in one case took an unsealed ballot that had not been filled out and delivered it sealed to the elections board.

The charges against Mendez, 45, are second-degree election fraud, third-degree fraud in casting mail-in votes, third-degree unauthorized possession of ballots, third-degree false registration or transfer, third-degree tampering with public records, and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.

He, similarly, is alleged to have collected ballots from voters and delivered them to election officials without identifying himself. He also is charged with delivering ballots that he knew were fraudulent, their having been filled out by an ineligible voter.

Khalique and Razyen received charges like the other two.

The alleged fraudsters face five to 10 years in prison for second-degree crimes, three to five years in prison for third-degree crimes and up to 18 months in prison for fourth-degree crimes. Their collective fines could reach more than $250,000 in fines.

Go back and read carefully each of the charges against these men. We have no doubt organizations in Tennessee and the other 49 states are already setting up schemes to manipulate ballots if mail-in elections become a reality.

It's a simple process, really. Organizations gather the ballots from willing friends, family members, the mailboxes of unsuspecting voters and the mailboxes where no one lives. They collect the signatures of ballots where they can, sign the others themselves, fill out the ballots with the names of candidates they prefer and mail them in.

California already allows a legal form of this in what's known as ballot harvesting, where absentee ballots are sent to all registered voters and third-party groups are allowed to collect and deliver multiple ballots at one time.

Democrats claim the COVID-19 virus requires the use of mail-in balloting to keep people safe.

However, in Wisconsin's April election, only 52 out of more than 400,000 voters and poll workers were confirmed later to have had the virus — none fatal — an infection rate below two-hundredths of 1%. And it could not be confirmed whether the 52 contracted the virus during the polling process or elsewhere.

As we have noted before, a 2005 Commission of Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, said balloting by mail was the form of voting most open to fraud.

Carter this year, falling in line with his fellow Democrats in the hopes of reclaiming the presidency for his party, said mail-in balloting should be expanded.

The New Jersey case, though, is clear about what will happen if mail-in balloting is taken across the country. Requesting individual absentee ballots is absolutely acceptable, but mail-in balloting is an invitation to a fraud-filled election.