Metro-East News

Woman says she filed complaint against Democratic county clerk at Dwight Kay’s urging

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Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.
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Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.

A Collinsville woman says a Republican candidate for state representative urged her to file a complaint against the Madison County Clerk just days before the Nov. 6 election. The candidate denies he encouraged the woman to file the complaint.

Jean Bedalow said she filed the complaint against Democratic Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza on the advice of Dwight Kay, Republican candidate for the 112th District, two years after she said she and other poll watchers were locked out of the ballot counting process.

Kay, a former state representative, is challenging Democrat incumbent Katie Stuart in a rematch from 2016.

In an interview on Saturday evening, Kay said he had had only a phone conversation some time ago with Bedalow but has never met her. He didn’t remember the time frame of the conversation.

“I wouldn’t say it was under my advice,” Kay said. “She related her story to me, and I said there’s a way to fix it and if you’re serious about fixing it, you might want to consider following certain legal channels and that was the extent of the conversation.”

He also said he didn’t have any comment on whether he was trying to sway his race against Stuart, and added he didn’t urge Bedalow to file any complaint.

“I think she was asking ‘what would you do,’ and I didn’t encourage her to do anything. So that’s probably a mischaracterization,” Kay said. “I don’t know her lawyer, I never read the complaint. I have no idea what’s going on.”

In 2016, Stuart won with 51.6 percent of the vote. Kay received 48.4 percent of the vote. It was a loss for Republicans even though the party gained seats in the state House of Representatives.

The Illinois House Republican Organization initially didn’t want Kay to run again, but he ultimately won the March 2018 primary.

Former Republican state Rep. Dwight Kay, left, is in a rematch against state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville.

Bedalow served as a poll watcher in the November 2016 elections and claims Ming-Mendoza’s staff closed their office doors so judges and poll watchers couldn’t enter to observe the count.

Bedalow claims she and other poll watchers and judges did not have a chance to observe the process at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville voting precinct before the counting was completed. Bedalow also says the ballots had been transported to another location so they were unable to monitor the process.

Ming-Mendoza said the claims are untrue and unfounded. Ming-Mendoza is a Democrat running for reelection against Republican candidate Stephen Adler.

In a motion to dismiss the case, Ming-Mendoza says Bedalow failed to identify specific members of the clerk’s staff, how many there were “or even where the alleged staff members were located when random and unnamed election judges and poll watchers were supposedly locked from the defendant’s office.”

Bedalow did not identify specific election judges or poll watchers, Ming-Mendoza said in the complaint. Further, Bedalow did not ever say she personally witnessed any of the alleged actions, the motion to dismiss stated.

“The plaintiff has chosen to wait almost a full two years to raise her alleged questions,” the motion stated.

Associate Judge Tom Chapman ordered a continuation of the case until after the election.

Bedalow said Friday she did not know why she waited to long to file the complaint, but said it was “a slap in the face” to not be able to speak at a hearing before the elections.

Bedalow said she votes Republican a majority of the time.

The next hearing was scheduled for Dec. 19.

The 112th district includes Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Collinsville and runs west toward Granite City. The district is mostly in Madison County, with a portion in St. Clair County.

Reporter Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis