by Pablo Ros | September 11, 2012
Ohio elections officials Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr. today filed a federal lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who fired them after they took a stand in favor of allowing residents to vote early on weekends.
“Dennis and I did nothing wrong,” Ritchie said. “We knew that 11,000 Montgomery County residents voted during early weekend hours in 2008. The county has the money to pay for the extended hours. We were only trying to give people a fair chance to vote.”
Lieberman added, “We believe Secretary Husted was wrong when he unjustly fired us. He violated our free speech and the free speech of other county elections board members.”
The two officials asked for a temporary restraining order to be immediately reinstated on the Elections Board. Their wrongful termination lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Dayton.
Husted backed down Friday from his efforts to prevent county boards of elections from setting their own early voting hours on the three days leading up to the general election. That reversal on the pre-election weekend came after a federal judge asked him to appear personally at a court hearing set for Wednesday. The hearing was meant to address Husted’s refusal to comply with the court’s order that Ohio must allow early voting on those days.
Husted and Ohio right-wingers have lead an effort to limit early voting hours in Democratic counties, including urban areas where minority voters predominate. Lieberman and Ritchie were fired Aug. 28 after they voted to hold weekend voting hours.