The Marissa police chief may have voted in village elections for years even though he didn’t reside in the village, according to St. Clair County records.
Since 2001, Thomas Prather voted in four election cycles that included ballots for elected positions in the village of Marissa, even though he didn’t live there, according to records provided by the county clerk’s office.
Prather had ballots for village elections in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013, but he lives about a half-mile from the village, according to assessor’s records.
It’s possible that he cast votes only on non-village questions on his ballots, such as school or township candidates or referendums, but it’s impossible to know, County Clerk Thomas Holbrook said.
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According to Prather, during one of those elections, he told the poll workers that their records needed to be updated, but they told him to vote anyway.
“Should I not have?” he asked during an interview.
When he was reminded that he didn’t pay taxes to the village, Prather declined to comment further on the matter.
Holbrook said that Prather might have consulted election volunteers instead of on-site election judges.
Still, Prather had multiple opportunities to correct the issue, according to the county.
Records show he registered to vote on Oct. 1, 2000, and received a new voter ID card after moving out of the Village of Marissa in 2004, and that he also received new cards in 2005, 2009, and 2013, years when the county purged voting records to remove people who no longer lived in St. Clair County, moved to a different location in the county, or who were deceased.
At the top of the card is a message to voters instructing them to “please check all information for accuracy. If there are no corrections, do not return this card. If there are any errors or if you have moved, please return your entire card with the necessary corrections to (the county clerk).”
“This left (numerous) chances for him to contact us regarding the miscoding of his address,” Deputy Clerk Margaret Eros wrote in an email.
Holbrook said that voting in an incorrect district is “very, very rare,” but, he added, “I promise you it’s happened in the past.”
He mentioned a few things that could have confounded county records, including redistricting and annexations, but voting cards have consistently included the message to alert county officials to correct any voting misinformation.
Eros said the county corrects errors as soon as they’re found. After learning about Prather’s votes, she searched the voting district where he lived and found no one else was receiving incorrect ballots.
Although Prather might have voted in a district to which he did not pay taxes, the amount of taxes he would have paid to it are small.
The police chief owns 6.17 acres of land that was assessed at $24,610 in 2015, but after deducting a $6,000 owner exemption and a $5,000 senior exemption, the total net taxable value of his property was $13,610, according to assessor’s records.
Had Prather lived in the village of Marissa, his tax levy would have been .3387 percent higher in 2015, and he would have paid only $46.08 to the village that year, according to calculations by assessor’s office.
Village of Marissa Mayor Jerry Cross said the village’s police chief is not required to reside within the village to serve in that position.
Voting records show that Prather cast ballots in the Democratic primary in 2014, and in the Republican primary in 2010.
He was mailed a new voter ID card after the recent error was corrected.