by Randy Pierce
MADISON COUNTY — Less than a month before the United States Supreme Court began deliberations on whether or not former President Donald Trump should be prohibited from appearing on the election ballot in November by the state of Colorado, the majority of the members of the Madison County Board expressed their feelings concerning this matter.
Initially introduced at a county board executive committee meeting by Dalton Gray of Troy, the resolution supported last month by 20 members of the full board makes several points related to the issue that has gained considerable attention at the national level.
In declaring that state officials and the appropriate authorities in Illinois “should prioritize upholding election integrity and ensuring accurate ballot counts while facilitating open and impartial access to the ballot box for all eligible candidates,” the county resolution continues with the mention of the fundamental rights of Americans to vote while adding that such access by “all qualified candidates is crucial for maintaining public trust in the electoral process.”
The criteria for appearing on a ballot, including the collection of petition signatures and filing them within certain deadlines, the resolution states, “should be applied objectively and consistently to all candidates, regardless of their political affiliation, background, or past accusations that have not resulted in a criminal conviction.”
Denying an individual to appear on a ballot, the legislation goes on, “undermines the presumption of innocence and jeopardizes the fundamental right to participate in the democratic process.”
This legislation saw only Michael “Doc” Holliday of Alton and Victor Valentine Jr. of Edwardsville voting no while Alison Lamothe of Edwardsville and Bill Stoutenborough of Alton chose to abstain. With Nick Petrillo of Granite City and Charles “Skip” Schmidt of Edwardsville both absent, everyone else among those present at the January county board meeting supported the legislation.
There was not much discussion at the committee level when the resolution first surfaced as Gray stated, without any definitive reference to Trump, upon presenting it, “There is certainly a lot of emotion, tension and division going on in the country at the moment and there have been several states that have discussed removing candidates from the ballot.”
He added that he views the resolution as a message to the state board of elections concerning the fundamental rights to vote, adding, “Just because you’re accused of a crime doesn’t disqualify you from being on the ballot.”
Lamothe delivered her feelings about this matter at great length when it came before the county board, prefacing her remarks with “I know I am in the minority, but I just wanted to explain while I will be abstaining from this.”
Stating she has been a long-time member of the League of Women Voters, Lamothe said she agrees totally with the concept of casting a ballot being a fundamental right but cannot vote yes on the resolution which, without stating it in a way that is obvious, supports “a particular individual who’s ballot access has been challenged.”
In presenting her feelings while specifically naming Trump, Lamothe cited the decisions in Colorado and Maine to prohibit him from appearing on their election ballots and additionally reviewed some recent history concerning this situation including his “four indictments and 91 felony counts.”
After board member Paul Nicolussi of Collinsville asked questions about the state’s authority to supersede whatever the federal Supreme Court would decide, Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto, chair of the executive committee which presented the resolution, commented, “This isn’t a court room and the statement we just heard from Miss Lamothe is the reason why this resolution was written, quite frankly, so to use these laws against someone, you just can’t accuse somebody of whatever you like.”
“In this case,” Madison added, “most people understand that’s exactly what’s going on. We had one political party going after their political opposition and they’re using the courts to do it any way they can get away with it.”
Madison characterized the resolution as a “message” to the Illinois State Board of Elections “to be fair.”