COLUMBUS — A hearing officer Monday recommended removing two Democratic members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections for failing to follow a directive issued by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted regarding uniform early voting hours.
Board members Dennis Lieberman and Thomas Ritchie Sr. voted against Husted’s directive on Aug. 17, saying it was ambiguous, while the two Republicans voted for it. Husted broke the board’s tie that same day and began removal proceedings against Lieberman and Ritchie.
Jon Allison, the individual appointed to hear the case on Aug. 20, rejected the ambiguous claim, noting that the directive specifically identified uniformity of hours across the state as the reason for the order.
His decision also states that any question about ambiguity was eliminated by the letter from Matthew Damschroder, Husted’s director of elections, further explaining the directive.
“I conclude,” Allison wrote, “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.”
Allison also concluded the Secretary of State has the authority to remove Lieberman and Ritchie. “Furthermore,” he wrote, “I believe that the facts warrant removal and recommend that the Secretary take such action.”