East St. Louis balks at effort to obtain voter roll info; Says Alliance is not represented by licensed attorney
East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners attorney Richard Sturgeon claims the East St. Louis Alliance for Change is a "nonexistent committee" and therefore not eligible to challenge the city's voter rolls.
Matt Hawkins, president of the organization, has been calling for election reform in the city for years. He claims East St. Louis harbors inactive voters in violation of election laws.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn re-set a hearing July 20 that would have delved into arguments over removing inactive voters from the East St. Louis Board of Elections voter rolls.
The hearing is now scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on July 27 in Courtroom 407.
Sturgeon is moving to dismiss a suit brought by Hawkins' organization that seeks the city's list of inactive voters. He argues that Hawkins' challenge should be denied in part because he is not represented by a licensed attorney.
Hawkins sued in February after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he filed to get the voter information was denied.
In a brief filed earlier this week, Sturgeon states that Hawkins did not make the FOIA request, rather, it was the East St. Louis Alliance for Change.
"Neither the East St. Louis Alliance for Change nor Matthias Hawkins perfected an appeal of the denial of the Freedom of Information Act request," Sturgeon wrote. "The East St. Louis Alliance for Change has filed no lawsuit whatsoever. The East St. Louis Alliance for Change does not exist, and no evidence shows it ever legally existed."
Sturgeon also claims that the only action filed was a pro se action by Hawkins, but it appears the Court is considering the Freedom of Information Act request as an appeal by the "Alliance," according to Sturgeon.
Sturgeon quoted state law, that: "No person shall be permitted to practice as an attorney or counselor at law within this State without having previously obtained a license for that purpose from the Supreme Court of this State."
Hawkins responded in an email by saying he doubted that Sturgeon had read the Code of Civil Procedure, the Freedom of Information Act or the Election Code.
"One would hope that after decades on the payroll getting paid to know these issues he would do a better job for the people of East St. Louis, his employers," Hawkins wrote.
The East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners filed a motion to dismiss June 11, stating the Freedom of Information Act does not require the release of "this information."
The Commission also argues that East St. Louis Alliance for Change is not an established political party, and as a result, the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners turned down its request for information.
Sturgeon's motion further argues that Hawkins' lawsuit did not follow the appropriate appeal procedure to obtain voter roll information.
The case is St. Clair County Case number 12-MR-65.