by Clyde Weiss | August 29, 2012
Montgomery County Board of Elections members Tom Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman address a rally outside the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. (Photo courtesy We Are Ohio)
All they wanted to do was oppose an edict that would make it harder for voters to cast their early ballots for this November’s elections. But instead of supporting Montgomery County Board of Elections officials Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr., Secretary of State Jon Husted chose to fire them.
Lieberman and Ritchie simply voted to have the same early voting hours as the county did in 2008 – hours that were approved by Republican that year and in the years since. Husted didn’t like that idea. He refused to let any of the 88 county elections boards stay open during weekends. Lieberman and Ritchie refused to adopt his dictate. They contend that his ruling did not prevent the expanded hours for weekends. Husted then suspended them. On Tuesday, he fired them.
The fact that rural areas are heavily Republican, while urban areas lean Democrat, surely couldn’t have played a part in Husted’s decision. Or could it? Husted, a Republican, said in a letter to the board members that they can express their discontent with any directive or advisory issued, “but they cannot disobey them.”
Lieberman responded, “I’m disappointed, but not surprised. SOS Husted is trampling on the rights of voters in this state and he will target anyone who dares to stand up to his suppressive acts.”
Ritchie said “Husted has acted rashly every step of the way so today’s decision is unfortunate yet not unexpected. The losers here are the voters and our democracy. Voters want the polls open on weekends and evenings so give the people what they want.”
Lieberman and Ritchie say they will confer with their legal counsel before deciding next steps.
AFSCME stands behind these two courageous officials. Ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to vote is a worthy cause.