3 metro-east men accused in absentee ballots case

News-DemocratApril 29, 2013 

— An Alorton man has been arrested and charged with voter fraud in connection with the April election.

Steveland Kidd, 25, of 4301 Walnut Ave., was charged Monday by St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly with violation of absentee ballots. He was being held Monday at the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

St. Clair County Sheriff Richard "Rick" Watson said his department conducted 200 interviews with 200 people during a two-week period after "we received numerous complaints from people in Alorton" about voting fraud.

"We had to expend a lot of man-hours to do the investigation, but it was all worth it. It is not like we have DNA or forensics. We have to interview people. They have to be relevant and reliable for us to get charges issued," Watson said.

The chief investigator for the sheriff's department, Lt. Scott Weymouth, said sheriff's investigator Brian Cregger was given the assignment to investigate the case

"The sheriff and I conducted a briefing about the case and then assigned members of the criminal investigation section and the street crimes unit to locate people who voted absentee, and then to interview them for possible illegal activities," Weymouth said. Each investigator was given several pages that contained the names of absentee voters.

Watson said, "The investigation is ongoing. As we receive information, we are going to investigate it," Watson said.

According to Kelly, the county clerk reported 27 absentee ballots were challenged and rejected based upon information gathered by the sheriff's investigation that indicated potential interference or inappropriate pressure at some point during the voting process.

"There is a lot of confusion among voters about what can and cannot be done with absentee voting, so someone trying to unfairly manipulate the democratic process could try to exploit that," Kelly said. "Citizens should absolutely exercise their right to vote and take advantage of absentee voting, but they should also be on guard against those who go beyond mere aggressive campaigning into acts that interfere with your vote. Absentee voting is no different than voting at the poll and should be treated with the same level of seriousness and sanctity."

Watson said he plans to assign assign his personnel to work with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office on future elections.

"Voting is a right that we have in this country. We need to hold it sacred. If we undermine our voting system, we undermine our entire Democracy," Watson said.

The State's Attorney's Office also charged James W. Haywood, 59, of Cahokia, and August Stacker Jr., of Cahokia, with one count of violation of absentee ballots. Bail for both men was set at $150,000.

Kelly said the charges against Stacker and Haywood were investigated by the Cahokia Police Department.

Investigators were in Washington Park, Brooklyn and Alorton after reports of vote fraud were reported by residents in the recent election.

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