St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn on July 27 dismissed a case filed by an East St. Louis man who was seeking the city’s records of inactive or “dead” voters.
Matt Hawkins, president of the East St. Louis Alliance for Change, had sued to force the East St. Louis Board of Elections to turn over the city’s voter rolls. Hawkins contends thousands of inactive voters remain on the registry which allows for fraudulent voting.
McGlynn ruled that Hawkins did not have standing individually to bring suit. He ruled that Freedom of Information Act requests that were filed in effort to obtain the information were brought by the East St. Louis Alliance for Change, a political committee, and not by Hawkins individually.
But, McGlynn did not find Hawkins’ FOIA requests were improperly filed or that Hawkins sought information not discoverable through a valid FOIA request.
Hawkins told McGlynn he felt he was being punished in court.
“This does substantial injustice,” Hawkins said.
McGlynn responded that he would make sure that elections would be conducted in a fair and open way.
“I do think this information is obtainable, but I do not think I can grant you what you are seeking,” McGlynn said.
“I cannot allow you to represent the Alliance. No one has challenged that the Alliance was a good committee.”
Hawkins plans to continue his fight. He has two options available. He may pursue the case as an individual, or he can have the Alliance pursue the case and hire an attorney to represent the Alliance.
“I think both are available to me, and I think I should exercise both,” he said. “If they honor requests as an individual, I’ll get the information.”
Hawkins said he hopes he finds that East St. Louis’ votes are being counted correctly.
“We’re being denied access to information that would allow us to substantiate that statement in fact,” he said.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the adult population of the city is 19,098. Registered voters in the city as of January numbered 19,520.
Belleville attorney Richard Sturgeon, who represents the city of East St. Louis,argued against releasing the information for privacy reasons.
“Releasing those records is difficult for my client, because they don’t believe private information should be given to everyone,” he said. “It would be insanity to order this. What’s to stop a telemarketer from getting this list?”
Hawkins wanted an accurate list of all voters who hadn’t voted since 2008.
Kandrise Mosby, assistant executive director of the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, stated in a court document that the East St. Louis Alliance for Change is dissolved and has $14,075 in outstanding fines.
In an email made available to the Record by Sturgeon, Sharon Steward, director of the campaign disclosure division at the Illinois State Board of Elections, wrote that if the Alliance remains dissolved for two years, fines expire.
“There is no personal liability on the part of the officers or anyone else associated with the committee,” she wrote. “Many committees dissolve with unpaid fines. This is not uncommon.”