Ohio election commissioners fight to keep weekend voting in their county

Updated

Two Democratic election officials in Ohio are putting their jobs on the line to keep weekend voting intact in their county. Tom Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman, members of the Montgomery County elections board, are currently being threatened with the loss of their jobs by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted.

On Monday’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Lieberman argued that voting to open the polls during the weekend before Election Day was well within the bounds of his authority. “It was my motion,” he said. “And the reason I made the motion is because we had already … decided that we were going to have early voting in Montgomery County on weekends as well as during the week. And it’s authority we have under the Ohio revised code, I believe, to make those decisions.”

Last week, Husted announced a new standardized early voting system for the entire state of Ohio: one which kept polls open until 7 PM on weekdays during the two weeks leading up to the election. However, his announcement said nothing regarding early voting on weekends, when initiatives like “Souls to the Polls” have managed to turn out Africans Americans to the polls in large numbers. Critics of attempts to restrict early voting in Ohio have argued that Republicans are trying to suppress the minority vote in order to benefit Romney and other Republican candidates.

“The Secretary of State knew that we had already voted in early voting in weekends and had been using it in Montgomery County in 2008,and had actually used it in the primary, the presidential primary, this year, just a couple months earlier,” said Lieberman. “So he knew we had it, and my thought was that if he knew we had it, and he didn’t address it, then we were free to fill in those blanks.”

However, Husted had other ideas. “We got a letter saying to rescind the motion or be fired,” said Lieberman. “And I refused to rescind the motion.”

As Maddow reported earlier in the episode, Obama took Montgomery County by 52 percent to McCain’s 46 in 2008. 28,000 of the voters in that county were early voters—and 52 percent of those voters were African American. A full third of early voters cast their ballots on the weekend.

Ohio election commissioners fight to keep weekend voting in their county

Updated