There’s a new effort underway to shut down the East St. Louis Election Board.
Illinois State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) is sponsoring a bill to close it. Kay’s district includes portions of Madison and St. Clair County, but not East St. Louis.
If the bill passes, the St. Clair County Clerk will take over responsibility for elections in East St. Louis.
“Illinois is sort of at a brink here when it comes to its finances,” Kay said. “And I think we are doing ourselves a disfavor by continuing to fund two separate offices when it comes to counting ballots and doing the work of the county clerk when he could be doing the work himself.”
Kay said that closing the election board could save East St. Louis more than $400,000 a year.
“So by consolidation, we could save money, and so could East St. Louis,” Kay said. “That money then, the money that’s being spent in East St. Louis, could be spent in other ways that might be more beneficial to the residents of that area.”
St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook said that his office could handle the additional responsibility, but would need some more money each year to pay for more equipment and election judges.
Holbrook didn’t give an estimate of how much, however.
He said he could have an estimate together in a few days if the bill becomes law, but that he was neutral on whether or not it should.
Election Board executive director Kandrise Mosby said closing the board would make it difficult for some people to cast absentee ballots because they’d have to drive to the county seat in Belleville.
“There are a lot of things that the city of East St. Louis is losing at this time and that would be of course unfortunate for the citizens to lose an additional service. It’s a convenience, especially for our older and our elderly citizens,” she said. adding that East St. Louis voters made their wishes clear in 2012, when they voted twice against proposals to close the board.
Mosby is one of four employees that could lose their jobs if the measure passes. Kay suggested that they might be hired by St. Clair County, but when the idea was put to Holbrook, he said that was unlikely.
“I have people here in my office who can do most of (the work),” Holbrook said. “I might need an additional person to handle the additional equipment and logistics of it, but I can’t address what East St. Louis would do with their election workers.”
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.