Former Caseyville mayor continues to fight for election recount

News-DemocratFebruary 17, 2014 

Former Caseyville mayor George Chance continues to challenge the results of the April 2013 election in court, nearly a year after ballots were cast.

Chance lost his re-election bid by four votes, 576-572, to current Caseyville Mayor Leonard Black.

Chance alleges in a lawsuit against Black and former St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney that there are 33 instances where either an unqualified vote was counted or a qualified voter was denied.

"Because of this large difference from the original results, a full recount is necessary to determine the true winner of the April 9, 2013, election for mayor of Caseyville," Chance's attorney, Kevin Kaufhold, stated in the lawsuit.

Black has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed because Chance has not provided enough information to show that a recount would change the results of the election.

Neither Chance, Kaufhold, Black nor Black's attorney, Michael Gras, could be reached for comment.

The case is scheduled for a hearing before Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 404 of the St. Clair County Building.

On the night of the April 9 election, Chance trailed Black by 12 votes. Two weeks later, the race came down to four votes after provisional and absentee ballots were counted.

Chance would have to demonstrate that a full recount likely would change the election results.

About a month after the election, Chance found one missing ballot when he asked for a discovery recount, which has no bearing on the outcome of the election.

In the discovery recount, Chance reviewed regular, absentee and provisional ballots in precincts 6, 7 and 18 -- or about 25 percent of the votes. The review showed Chance there was a possibility for more errors, leading him to ask for a full recount.

In court documents, Chance lists 33 voters by name and address, with explanations of why their vote should or should not have counted. For some of the voters, Chance states if the person likely voted for Chance or Black.

In summary:

* Ten voters had registered addresses where they no longer live.

* Five people voted in the Caseyville election though they live outside village limits.

* Five people were denied their right to vote.

* Five voters were not allowed to amend their ballot or vote on Election Day.

* Two voters who required voting assistance got help without the necessary affidavit.

* Two people voted by absentee ballot using the address of a home owned by Black though they never lived there.

* And, four people who voted for Black lived at a home owned by Black and received "financial aid" from him.

Chance lists former St. Clair County chief deputy coroner Ace Hart and his wife, Patti Hart, among those who were denied their right to vote.

In Chance's court filings, he states that the Harts have a summer home in Florida but continue to live in Caseyville, where they are registered to vote.

Delaney, the county clerk, threw out the two absentee ballots on April 2 after a ruling by a U.S. postal inspector. The inspector found that Ace and Patti Hart legally reside in Florida and not Illinois, and cannot vote in the Caseyville election by absentee ballot.

A couple of months after the election, Delaney resigned his post amid allegations that he bullied his employees. Delaney denies that he mistreated workers.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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