Secretary of State Jon Husted started dismissal proceedings against the Democrats on the Montgomery County Board of Elections because they refused to adopt the uniform hours Husted set for early voting times in the state.
Following a hearing and a recommendation from the hearing officer, today he fired them.
They had maintained that the directive from Husted was 'ambiguous' and did not prevent them from adding more voting hours on weekends. The hearing officer disagreed, saying it was plain, in both the background section of the directive and the follow-up letter sent to the board, that the purpose was to have the same hours of voting in every county in the state.
Here is the letter Husted sent (addresses redacted):
August 28, 2012
Thomas J. Ritchie, Sr.
Dennis A. Lieberman
After reviewing the report of the hearing officer following the August 20, 2012 hearing, can draw no other conclusion: You knowingly and willfully violated Ohio election law by not following Directive 2012-35, which Ohio law(R.C. 3501.11) requires you to follow. Thus, you are immediately dismissed from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
The hearing officer report states:
"I conclude that no reasonable person after considering (a) the words of the directive ("Background" and "Instructions" read together in context) and (b) the plain words of Mr. Damschroder's letter could conclude that Directive 2012-35 is ambiguous and permits weekend hours for in person absentee voting. Therefore, conclude that Mr. Lieberman in making his motion, voting for it and later refusing to rescind it did so in contravention of Directive 2012-35 and in violation of R.C. 3501.11. Mr. Ritchie, who seconded the motion and voted for it, also did so in contravention of R.C. 3501.11.
The hearing officer concludes:
"I conclude that consistent with the Ohio Revised Code and relevant ease law the Secretary has the authority to remove Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Ritchie. Furthermore, believe that the facts warrant removal and recommend that the Secretary take such action."
Board members are free to express their discontent with any Directive or Advisory issued, but they cannot disobey them. Your dismissal is not about differing views; it is about you violating the law by not following Directive (R.C. 3501.11). You were given subsequent chances to comply and refused to take corrective action.
I find no pleasure in taking this action and thank you for your service.