A confrontation over voter identification requirements Tuesday at an Independence precinct resulted in the arrest of a man who says he was denied the right to vote, a claim election board officials deny.
Phil Lindsey said when he and his son Eamonn showed up to East Alton Community of Christ Church, 16999 E. 23rd St., Tuesday morning to cast their votes in the primary election they presented election judges with precinct-issued voter cards as proof they were registered voters.
After being told by judges that the cards were not valid forms of identification to cast a vote and that they needed to show photo I.D., Lindsey said he produced a bank statement, which, shown in combination with the precinct card, is valid according to the secretary of state’s office.
“They did not have the legal right to ask for a driver’s license,” Lindsey said. “I said, ‘you have got to be kidding me.’ You have to know the law.”
Election judges, unsure if the bank statement was valid, immediately placed a phone call to the Jackson County Election Board to get clarification. What happened after that is open to interpretation. Lindsey said he and his son were trying to explain to an election judge why they should be allowed to vote. Election Board Co-director Charlene Davis said Lindsey became loud and unruly.
“Mr. Lindsey was screaming at the election judges like a maniac out of control,” Davis said. “The judges were scared to death. It’s my understanding that he was so out of control that the police arrested him for peace disturbance.”
Police Spokesperson Tom Gentry said Lindsey was arrested for, as the summons to appear in court states: “knowingly (causing) a disturbance/disorderly conduct to wit: acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another, placing such person(s) in fear of safety by refusing to show proper I. D. when voting.”
Gentry would not comment further on the incident.
Lindsey said he was not disrupting the peace or behaving in a disorderly way but simply exercising his right to vote in accordance of state law.
“The way it (the summons) was written, they feared for their safety because I wouldn’t produce my driver’s license,” said Lindsey, a self-described politically active Democrat. “I’m not sure what it was they were reacting to.”
Davis said the board offered five times to allow Lindsey and his son an opportunity to vote after he posted a $300 bond on the disorderly conduct charged. Lindsey refused to vote at the election board office, steadfast on voting at his assigned precinct.
“I asked questions and, in the end, I decided I would vote only in my precinct,” Lindsey said. Lindsey and his son both left the office without voting.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s an unfortunate situation,” Davis said, “but the thing is, this is not his first time doing this. He was not being disenfranchised or denied a right to vote. He simply would not listen to logic.”
For his part, Lindsey said he wanted to vote at his designated precinct.
“I did not see any way she could have handed me a ballot to fill out and it would have counted,” Lindsey said. “I didn’t want to possibly set a precedent for this.”
Davis said in her 34 years with the Election Board she has never encountered such an incident as this one.
“I think it is a shame when people come in and try to intimidate election judges,” she said. “If he had shown the bank statement (in the beginning) he would have been fine.”