Vendor says Ohio, Pennsylvania ballot backlogs caught up
By JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The printing and mailing of 2.4 million delayed ballots across Ohio and Pennsylvania is all caught up, the vendor responsible for the backlog announced Tuesday.
Cleveland-based Midwest Direct said in a statement that extra staff, expanded hours and added equipment were required to meet the “staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests for this election.”
Unprecedented demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic combined with equipment challenges at the company led to delays that left county boards of elections and voters in both states scrambling.
CEO Richard Gebbie said 1 million mail-in ballots requested, as well as 1.4 million Election Day ballots, were processed by Midwest and delivered to the Postal Service over the past 14 days.
“We are up-to-date with all ballot orders as of yesterday and we anticipate timely fulfillment as we move through the rest of the vote-by-mail process, which will continue through Saturday, October 31, the last day of mailing,” he said in Tuesday’s statement.
The company initially served as a contractor or subcontractor for 16 Ohio counties, including those where Cleveland, Toledo and Akron are located. Because of the delays, nine of those counties opted out of those business arrangements and are going it on their own, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose tweeted in a video message Monday.
“It’s really unfortunate and truly unacceptable that this vendor had overpromised and underdelivered as it related to getting ballots out as quickly as they should,” LaRose said.
LaRose stressed, however, that voting by mail in Ohio remains safe and secure.
Gebbie said last week that his firm’s business model for this election anticipated double the number of absentee requests fielded in 2016. Instead, it’s been triple.
Midwest Direct was also the contractor involved in the mailing of 29,000 ballots with wrong contests on them to voters in Pennsylvania’s second-most populous county, Allegheny. Those voters were mailed corrected ballots.