They say if there’s a will, there’s a way, and in St. Clair County there seems to be a lot of will to steal local elections. The expanded use of absentee ballots in Illinois – voters no longer need a reason to request one – has opened wide the doors for the fraudsters.
Centreville resident Shavette M. Wills was charged last week with falsifying an absentee ballot in the April 7 election. Two other people already face similar charges: Davione Kidd, a newly-elected Alorton trustee, and Brian McDouglar, of Cahokia.
And there could be more. A handwriting expert analyzed 85 absentee ballots from Precinct 13 in East St. Louis and concluded three people filled out 30 of the ballots for mayoral write-in candidate Alvin Parks. Those ballots didn’t change the outcome in this particular race; Emeka Jackson-Hicks won by a large margin. But in a close election even one forged ballot could be the difference-maker.
It’s probably impossible to stop a problem that seems to be part of our county’s political DNA. But aggressive enforcement can at least slow it down. St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook’s Voter Integrity Hotline is giving the public an effective way to help ensure fair elections; tips are actively pursued and in some cases have resulted in criminal charges. And State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly wants mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders, which would be another good weapon in what for St. Clair County is a never-ending battle.
Not every county politician has benefitted from voter fraud, but there’s a long list.