BELLEVILLE – Former deputy coroner Ace Hart says his vote in a Caseyville election this April should have counted but didn’t.
“I feel my civil rights were violated,” Hart said Aug. 19. “I feel my wife and I’s votes should have counted."
His and Patti Hart’s votes would count after all if former mayor George Chance prevails in a petition for recount at St. Clair County circuit court.
Chance sued former county clerk Bob Delaney and campaign opponent Leonard Black in May, after Delaney decided that Black defeated Chance, 576 to 572.
Among other allegations, Chance claims Delaney rejected valid ballots that the Harts and three others cast.
In a telephone interview from Florida, Hart described himself as a snow bird.
“When I was getting ready to retire in 2006, my wife and I bought a home in Florida,” he said. “When we had time off we’d go down there for a long weekend or a vacation. We would fly down there and get it ready.
“I still maintain residency in Caseyville. I wanted to remain part of Caseyville. We would make sure we were home in the spring.”
At the current rate, Chance’s petition may last longer than Black’s term as mayor. Nothing of substance has happened, and the case lacked a judge as of Aug. 21.
Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn took himself off the case two days earlier, after Chance moved for automatic substitution.
In Illinois any party can substitute a judge without cause, only once, if the judge has not made a substantial ruling.
On Aug. 21, Chief Judge John Baricevic said he had not reassigned the petition.
The case already had lost the lawyer who started it. Alvin Paulson of Belleville withdrew on July 5, citing a conflict of interest that arose when Delaney resigned.
Kevin Kaufhold took over from Paulson and soon found himself facing a demand from Black for a bill of particulars.
On Aug. 7, village lawyer Michael Gras of Belleville wrote that the petition doesn’t adequately advise Black of the claims against him.
He demanded names and addresses of voters whose ballots Chance claims he wrongly collected and filled out. He demanded names and addresses of those who Chance claims wrongly assisted voters who had not signed assistance affidavits.
He demanded names of those who Chance claims wrongly campaigned while assisting absentee voters. He demanded names and addresses of those who Chance claims were wrongly permitted to vote despite not being registered.