Election night drama, for decades, has followed the same plot line: Madison County is done within a few hours of the polls closing. St. Clair County plods along with a challenger winning, winning, winning. Then sometime around midnight the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners drops its bloc of Democratic votes. Boom. Incumbent Democrats win again.
This year was the same thing. Republicans Ed Cockrell for Board of Review, Dallas Cook for circuit clerk and Ronald Duebbert for circuit judge were all winning until the East St. Louis tally arrived. Rodger Cook, with no money and no public service since 1997, was 921 votes from defeating Boss Kern for county chairman.
It’s not that the good people of East St. Louis should have their voices silenced. It’s that there is a mountain of warranted distrust created by a one-city vote-counting system with a long history of associated players committing felony-level vote fraud.
The East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is antiquated and unneeded, especially in a city on the edge of bankruptcy. It costs the city $400,000 a year to handle, on average, two elections a year. Foolish choice to support that expense when your finances are caving in, but that is their choice.
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Worse, St. Clair County perpetuates the practice by subsidizing it with your tax dollars. The current year’s subsidy is $107,152. Enough.
Why are your dollars used to subsidize inefficiency and duplication? So the ruling Democrats can control power and maintain that late-night buffer of votes that provide no surprises.
We have decades of finding dozens of registered voters claiming to live in one tiny shack. We have decades of vote buying as silver suitcases of cash are shipped from Belleville. We have years of precinct bosses brow-beating little old ladies to fill out absentee ballots by the fistfull. We’ve had the dead voting.
The plot got tweaked a little this election when Duebbert defeated Democrat John Baricevic for 20th circuit judge. After East St. Louis thought they’d filled out enough absentees to give Baricevic the win, a few more outer-county precincts were tallied and put Duebbert over the top. East St. Louis got played.
We expect they won’t get caught by the same trick next time and their results will come in even later.
But what should happen is that they don’t exist next time. End separate but unequal. Demand that this end. Enough is enough.