OPINION: Someone needs to monitor our State Board of Elections
“With 19,520 registered voters as of January 13, 2012, and only 19,000 persons over the age of 18 [in East St. Louis], according to the United States Census Bureau’s 2010 report, it seems that we have now a major case of over-registration,” Matt Hawkins of the East St. Louis Alliance for Change lamented six years ago.
Since registration of eligible voters is never anywhere near 100 percent, that means there were several thousand potentially fraudulent voters in East St. Louis back then, and probably just as many today.
Wouldn't it make sense to have a state board of elections to uphold election laws, monitor and purge voter rolls, verify the authenticity of signatures on nominating petitions and ballot initiatives, etc.?
Oh, wait, we do have one. The problem is, it's kind of lackadaisical about performing its prescribed duties.
For instance, when St. Clair County Circuit Judges John Baricevic, Robert LeChien, and Robert Haida sought to avoid the higher standard for retention by resigning their positions and pretending to be first-time candidates, the State Board of Elections deadlocked in a 4-4 partisan vote on the propriety of the matter and the three schemers got away with their scam.
The Board also refused, initially, to take any action against State Auditor General Frank Mautino when questions arose about his apparent misuse of campaign funds during his time as a state representative.
Last week, the Board denied an objection that would have guaranteed the nomination of St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly as Democratic candidate for Congress, ruling that his opponent, David Bequette of Columbia, could run against him in the upcoming 12th District primary. This was after first deciding to uphold the objection and being challenged for irregularities in their review efforts.
Having a state board of elections still seems like a good idea, but this particular board may not be the one we want. If it can't make the decisions it should make, there's no point in having it. Maybe we should get rid of it and start over.