We have been waiting to see how Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted would deal with some wayward Democratic County Board of Elections members who desired to reverse his ruling and allow weekend early voting in their constituencies. We have our answer. Husted fired Tom Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman, two board members in the Toledo area.
The two Democratic members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections have been fired, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a letter released Tuesday afternoon. [...]
Husted said in his letter that board members are free to express their discontent with any directive or advisory issued, “but they cannot disobey them.” [...]
The move by Husted, the state’s chief elections official, was the latest in a series of flare ups over when Ohioans can cast an early ballot in person in the presidential battleground state. The issue essentially broke down along political party lines. Ohio is one of 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voters to cast an early ballot by mail or in person without having to give a reason.
You can see the entire letter from Husted here.
Steve Benen explains the history behind this:
Remember, voting in Montgomery County, Ohio, went very smoothly four years ago, with local officials running a relatively hassle free, trouble free election. Democrats and Republicans on the local board of elections expanded early voting opportunities, and turnout went up considerably.
The problem — if you want to call it that — is that President Obama won in Montgomery County and in Ohio statewide, leading Buckeye State Republicans to start changing the rules, making it harder for voters to participate in their own democracy.
You can actually go back to 2004, where Ohio’s voting experience was punctuated with long lines and a host of problems. They turned to early voting in 2008 to relieve some of the burden. And it worked spectacularly well. Too well, in fact, for Republicans, who do better with low turnout when they can better define the electorate. So they pulled it back. And Democrats on the elections board who wanted to basically keep the status quo got fired for their trouble.
The Obama campaign has actually sued the state of Ohio over their early voting restrictions. This is what Republicans tried to turn into an assault on military voters, because they are given preferential access to early voting, and the GOP claimed the Obama campaign wanted to “take away their privileges.” In actuality they wanted to give everyone in Ohio the same benefits. Given the importance of Ohio, this isn’t likely to let up.