Ohioans Stand Up for Democracy in Protest over Suspended County Elections Officials
Montgomery County Board of Elections members Tom Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman were joined by Dayton Pastor Charles Holmes at a rally outside the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. SOS Husted suspended them for voting to extend weekend voting hours last week. (Photo courtesy We Are Ohio)
Ohioans, including members of AFSCME Council 8, are showing their support today for two county elections officials who were suspended Saturday after they refused to adopt the vote-suppressing dictates of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Those orders would make it harder for mostly Democratic voters to cast early votes in this November’s presidential election.
As a consequence of their refusal, Montgomery County Board of Elections officials Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr. face dismissal from their positions for taking their stand against a directive that Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern has called “outrageous and borderline criminal.”
The dispute centers on voting hours. Husted refused to have any of the 99 county elections boards open during weekends. That decision primarily impacts urban areas, where voters have a harder time getting to the election offices to cast their early votes. Urban areas of Ohio are also where most of the state’s Democrats live. Rural areas are heavily Republican.
Husted, a Republican, insists he’s just trying to equalize the opportunity for all Ohioans to cast early votes. But the reality of voter demographics and party politics makes that claim ring untrue. Even Doug Preisse, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party and an elections board member who voted against weekend hours, acknowledges the party’s agenda:
“We shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine,” Preisse told the Post Dispatch in an email. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.” Read the full article here.
At a time when Republicans are going all-out to suppress the vote of Democratic-leaning areas based on false pretenses of voter fraud and abuse, Husted’s actions merely add fuel to the fire. Making it easier for everyone to vote – by taking into account obvious differences between rural and urban communities – is no crime. Lieberman and Ritchie should not be penalized for wanting to level the playing field – and their actions should be adopted as policy, statewide.