Democrats on Montgomery County Board of Elections fight suspensions.
The two Democrats on the Montgomery County Board of Elections, Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr., were suspended by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted after they refused to cave in on extending in-person early voting hours.
Summoned to Husted’s Columbus office Monday morning for a hearing to decide whether they will be removed from office, the two were met by a crowd over 150 supporters, including many Council 8 members.
“Dennis and Tom were doing their jobs as board members,” said Ohio Council 8 President John A. Lyall. “Apparently if you don’t toe the line and vote the way Secretary of State Husted tells you to - you lose your job. That’s not democracy,” Lyall said.
“I believe that this is so critical to our freedom in America, and to individual rights to vote, that I am doing what I think is right,” Lieberman said. “In 10 years, I’ve never received a threat that if I don’t do what they want me to do, I could be fired. I find this reprehensible.”
Each county board of elections has two Democrats and two Republicans who set local election rules. In case of a deadlock, the Secretary of State steps in as the tiebreaker.
Four of Ohio’s largest counties - Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Akron - had deadlocked over offering evening and weekend voting hours. Husted, a Republican, cast his tie-breaking vote that denied extra hours in those heavily Democratic counties.
At the same time, deadlocked heavily Republican counties were allowed extended and weekend voting hours.
In response to a national backlash from Democrats who said Republican-dominated counties would have more opportunity to vote than Democratic-leaning counties, Husted ordered uniform days and hours across the state.
Tom Ritchie Sr. called it “a sad day,” saying weekend voting is important because residents should have more choice about how and when to vote. “There’s no reason in the world for him to do what he’s doing to us other than to suppress the vote” he said.
Republicans have a clear national record of voter-suppression efforts. They are limiting early voting hours, restricting voter registration drives, passing tough voter ID laws, and purging the voter rolls. GOP strategists believe keeping turnout down among Obama supporters can mean the difference between winning and losing in a close election.