BELLEVILLE — A former St. Clair County Democratic politician and chief deputy coroner had his absentee ballot thrown out on Tuesday following a ruling by a postal inspector that his legal residence is in Florida and not Illinois.
Ace Hart, who was a Democratic precinct committeeman in Caseyville Township for many years, and his wife, Patricia, will not be allowed to vote in the April 9 election by filing an absentee ballot, said St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney.
"After receiving additional information from the U.S. postal inspector, it is concluded that their primary residence is not in Illinois but in the state of Florida," Delaney said in a written statement.
"The absentee ballot of Mr. Ace Hart and Mrs. Patricia Hart will not be counted in the April, 9, 2013," local election, the statement said.
The statement also said the Harts' voter registrations will be canceled for all future elections.
Hart, who said he is enjoying life in retirement but is in Caseyville on business, said: "I know it's all politics. As far as I am concerned, I own a home in Caseyville and one in Florida. But I'm not going to fight it."
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Delaney said that after Belleville resident Brad VanHoose, who is active in politics in Caseyville, complained to the county clerk's office about the Hart absentee votes, Delaney said he reviewed them. After checking Illinois law, Delaney said it was his opinion that the Harts could vote absentee even if they had a second address in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Illinois law requires that to vote absentee, a voter must list their primary address, although interpretation of the law has been liberal in cases where it has been challenged.
However, VanHoose persisted, Delaney said, and contacted the postal inspector who determined that the Harts' "legal address" is Port Charlotte and they were not registered to vote in that state. Delaney said both he and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly were notified of this determination by the postal inspector, whom he declined to name.
When asked if Delaney described his role correctly, VanHoose said: "That's right. That's what should have happened. Ace Hart does not live in the village of Caseyville."
Delaney said his office is reviewing scores of questionable absentee ballots, a procedure that is carried out every election.
Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2625.