East St. Louis voters reject initiative to disband board of elections

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Nov 7, 2012

More than 70 percent of East St. Louis voters defeated a ballot initiative to disband the East St. Louis Board of Elections Tuesday.

Matt Hawkins, leader of the East St. Louis Alliance for Change, led the petition to get the question to voters for the second straight election. Despite the consecutive losses, Hawkins says his quest to disband the East St. Louis Board of Elections is not over.

“We certainly expect to put it back on the ballot," he said. "The question is when and under what auspices."

Hawkins’ initiative had 3,013 voters in favor of his petition and 8,086 opposed.

“The people that were in support of keeping it violated all the laws and manipulated poor people to support something that’s far outside their interests,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins was happy he had the votes he did, as no money was spent at the polls by any of his assistants. And according to Hawkins, the St. Clair County Democratic organization donated a quarter of a million dollars to defeat his effort.

“We didn’t have people at the polls passing out stuff,” he said. “I’m excited about the growth in our electorate that (they) are able to understand this very complex issue.”

He hopes to continue educating East St. Louis voters, as he learned 2,000 people went to the polls but did not understand the question about the city’s 1885 election law.

The election law of 1885 allows municipalities other than county government to establish an election commission referendum. East St. Louis adopted the election law of 1885 a year later, in 1886, according to Hawkins.

East St. Louis voters rejected the very same measure that appeared on the March primary election ballot. A total of 3,359 voters said “No” to 1,503 voters who said “Yes.”

Hawkins contends East St. Louis cannot afford to support its own elections board.

Kandrise Mosby, interim executive director of the East St. Louis Board of Elections, said the ballot decision was a decision to be made by the voters.

"I’ve stated in past, it really doesn’t matter how I think," she said. "Citizens would like to keep the election board within the City of East St. Louis."

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