COLUMBUS — The legal battle goes on, but in the meantime, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today temporarily reinstated a pair of Democratic elections officials who had insisted on scheduling weekend early voting hours in violation of his directive.
A hearing officer is expected to notify Mr. Husted of his recommendation as soon as today as to whether Montgomery County Board of Elections members Thomas J. Ritchie, Sr. and Dennis Lieberman should be fired from their posts.
Mr. Husted had suspended the two pending the outcome of his plan to remove them from office for “non-feasance.’’ While that dispute continues, election-related decisions still have to be made at the Dayton-based board, prompting him to reinstate them.
“This action is necessary so that the board can meet impending statutory deadlines,’’ Mr. Husted wrote in a letter to the two Democrats.
Last week. Mr. Husted issued a directive setting expanded weekday hours for in-person early voting at all 88 county boards of elections, but he made no mention of weekend hours. Just two days later, the Montgomery board deadlocked 2-2 with Democrats supporting weekend voting and Republicans sticking to the Husted hours.
A hearing was held Monday morning as Mr. Ritchie and Mr. Lieberman argued that their position would have augmented Mr. Husted’s directive, not violate it. Mr. Husted’s office has maintained that the pair blatantly violated a legal and binding order.
Under Ohio law, voters may begin casting absentee ballots by mail or in person beginning on Oct. 2, 35 before the Nov. 6 election.
In addition to the fight over scheduling early voting hours, President Obama’s re-election campaign is in federal court seeking to open board offices for early voting on the three days immediately preceding the election. Under current law, only military personnel and their immediate families may vote on those days—assuming the offices are open.