9 Ohio counties take over absentee ballot mailings amid vendor delays

Thousands of residents did not receive their absentee ballots on time

Nine Ohio counties have begun producing and mailing absentee ballots in-house after issues with an outside vendor kept thousands of voters from receiving their ballots on schedule, Ohio Sec. of State Frank LaRose said this week.

LaRose, Ohio’s chief elections official, said the vendor “failed to meet expectations” to deliver the absentee ballots on time when early voting began on Oct. 6. Of the 16 counties that hired the vendor to print and mail the absentee ballots, just seven have retained its services ahead of Election Day.

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“It’s very unfortunate and truly unacceptable that this vendor had over-promised and under-delivered as it related to getting ballots out as quickly as they could,” LaRose said.

Ohio officials have reported a surge in mail-in ballot applications ahead of the 2020 presidential election. More than 2.7 million state residents have requested absentee ballots of this week, nearly double the total at the same time during the 2016 election cycle.

Midwest Direct, the vendor contracted by the 16 counties, said it had completed printing and mailing all outstanding ballots as of Monday. The company attributed delays to this year’s “staggering” demand.

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“We are proud of our team’s efforts in processing this unprecedented number of ballots in the short time we had to complete them, and we thank them for their diligent efforts,” Midwest Direct said in a statement. “We brought in extra staff, expanded hours and added equipment to meet the staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests for this election. In many cases, we processed three times the volume of requests the county board of elections anticipated.”

Cleveland.com was first to report that thousands of residents in the northeast Ohio counties had not received their absentee ballots as scheduled.

More than 1.1 million Ohioans have already cast their ballots in the 2020 election.