COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, a Republican, has fired two Democrats from a county board of elections because they voted to extend early-voting hours.
In a letter released Tuesday, Husted notified Thomas Ritchie Sr. of Dayton and Dennis Lieberman of Clayton they were being fired from the Montgomery County Board of Elections. He said they "knowingly and willfully violated Ohio election law" when they voted to extend early-voting hours on weekends in their county, in contravention of Husted's order to cut back on early-voting hours for the November election.
Husted's letter said elections board members may speak out against such a directive "but they cannot disobey them," WHIO-TV, Dayton, reported.
"Your dismissal is not about differing views; it is about you violating the law ... ," Husted wrote. "You were given subsequent chances to comply and refused to take corrective action."
Husted had suspended Richie and Lieberman from the board Aug. 17, three days before a hearing examiner considered whether there were grounds for their removal, the TV station said.
Husted has ordered all 88 Ohio county elections boards to offer uniform early-voting hours, but only on weekdays. His directive doing away with early voting on weekends, to take effect Oct. 2, does away with an early-voting opportunity Ohio Democrats say has mostly been favored by voters in urban areas of the state.
Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in an opinion this month Husted's directive was legal.
Local elections boards, each made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, had been establishing individual early-voting hours, with weekend and evening hours varying from one county to another, the TV station said.