Mon September 3, 2012
Fired Montgomery County election officials hailed as heroes
Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, the Democrats fired from the Montgomery County Board of Elections for defying Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's order on early voting hours, were treated as conquering heroes by the Ohio Democratic delegates in Charlotte Monday morning.
At Monday morning's Ohio delegation breakfast, delegates gave Lieberman and Ritchie a standing ovation as they took the stage at the Oasis Shriners Lodge.
"I'm not a hero,'' said Lieberman, saying that his father, a combat military veteran was the true hero. "I just stood up for people's right to vote."
Last month, boards of elections in two dozen small, heavily Republican voters voted to extend voting hours into the evening on weekdays and on weekends.
But in several large urban counties - where Democratic votes are plentiful - the boards of elections tied on extending hours. Husted, a Republican, sided with Republican board members who did not want extended hours.
After an outcry from Democrats, Husted came up with what he thought was a compromise solution - no weekend voting, but boards could stay open late on week days during the last two weeks of the early voting period, which begins Oct. 2.
After Husted issued his order, Ritchie and Lieberman introduced a motion extending hours beyond what Husted had ordered. He suspended them, hauled them to a hearing in Columbus, and ultimately fired from the Montgomery County board of elections for defying what he called his lawful order.
"Husted was judge, jury and executioner,'' Ritchie told the crowd.
Lieberman said that "no matter what hours they enforce on us, we will vote."
Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern, in introducing the two to the crowd, said that the move to limit hours came about because "Republicans just found out that we are flat out better at organizing than they are."
Husted's office could not be reached for comment.