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Ohio's Husted fires Democratic election board members

The Rachel Maddow Show has been closely following voter-suppression efforts, most notably in Ohio, where Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, has been threatening to fire Tom Ritchie Sr. and Dennis Lieberman, two Democratic members of the Montgomery County board of elections.

And what is it, exactly, that Ritchie and Lieberman did to earn Husted's wrath. The Democratic officials committed the crime of voting to expand voting hours in their county.

Today, Husted followed through on his threat.

The two Democratic members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections have been fired, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said in a letter released Tuesday afternoon. [...]

Husted said in his letter that board members are free to express their discontent with any directive or advisory issued, "but they cannot disobey them." [...]

The move by Husted, the state's chief elections official, was the latest in a series of flare ups over when Ohioans can cast an early ballot in person in the presidential battleground state. The issue essentially broke down along political party lines. Ohio is one of 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voters to cast an early ballot by mail or in person without having to give a reason.

The full text of Husted's letter is now available online here (pdf).

To put it mildly, the firings are tough to defend. Take a few minutes to review Rachel's segment on this from last week, posted above, which also included an interview with Ritchie and Lieberman.

Remember, voting in Montgomery County, Ohio, went very smoothly four years ago, with local officials running a relatively hassle free, trouble free election. Democrats and Republicans on the local board of elections expanded early voting opportunities, and turnout went up considerably.

The problem -- if you want to call it that -- is that President Obama won in Montgomery County and in Ohio statewide, leading Buckeye State Republicans to start changing the rules, making it harder for voters to participate in their own democracy.

But what makes Montgomery County special is the efforts of Ritchie and Lieberman.

When Ohio Republicans decided to create new voting restrictions, they saw it as imperative to narrow the early-voting window. After a series of controversies, Husted eventually ordered every Ohio county to adopt the same hours-of-operation for early voting in the weeks preceding the election.

But, and this is key, the directive only applied to weekdays, leading Ritchie and Lieberman in Montgomery County to push once again for the weekend voting opportunities that worked so well for the community four years ago.

And for that, they were fired. Husted doesn't just want to make it harder for voters to participate in the election, he's also comfortable firing those who want to make it easier for voters to participate in the election.

This just isn't right.