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.
Khan’s legal issues regarding alleged voter fraud actually started in 2019 when members of law enforcement first began to suspect that Khan and his two brothers, Zakir and Mohammad Khan, were involved in an illegal gambling scheme in connection to two businesses owned by Shakir Khan. Investigators then conducted a search of Khan’s home in 2020, which is when they allegedly discovered the fraudulent ballots.
“When we saw [the ballots], we thought that something was off here, and we didn’t know we had a crime at this particular point because there was a recent change in election law, and people can turn in ballots on behalf of another,” said Capt. Art Harty of the sheriff’s office.
Khan was arrested in 2021 in connection to the alleged illegal gambling scheme and charged with illegal gambling, money laundering, tax evasion, and unemployment claim fraud. His two brothers were likely charged as well, but the details regarding their reported arrests are unclear. Whether any of the Khan brothers are currently facing prosecution in connection to alleged illegal gambling is unknown.