Half Of Counties Working With Cleveland Vendor Walk Away Over Ballot Delays
With less than two weeks left in early voting, 16 Ohio counties are recovering from delays in getting absentee ballots to voters because of a problem with an outside vendor.
The 16 county boards of elections had hired Midwest Direct of Cleveland to print and distribute hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots. Those 16 counties are Butler, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Union, Williams and Wood.
Those ballots were delayed, and last week, the company said it was bringing in extra equipment and staff to meet the backlog, which it blamed on unanticipated demand. In a statement has since been removed from the company's website, Midwest Direct said that no one "anticipated the staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests that has actually occurred."
Starting last month, it was widely reported that demand for absentee ballots was strong. The absentee applications moved past more than 2 million, with big increases in counties across the state.
ICYMI: Over 2 million Ohioans have requested absentee ballots by mail. In 35 of 88 counties, requests are at least 50% higher than total of mailed-in absentee ballots in all of 2016. In 3 counties, requests so far are double total returned in 2016. Early voting starts Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/27LKx4KbxL— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) October 2, 2020
When early voting began on October 6, it was announced voters had turned in a record number of absentee ballot requests.
In a video on Facebook, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that wasn’t enough for more than half of those counties.
“Nine of the impacted counties decided to discontinue their relationship with this vendor and to start processing ballots in-house and mailing them out from their own board office.”
The nine counties that broke with Midwest Direct are Butler, Clinton, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami and Williams.
LaRose said Midwest Direct, which he never names in the video, told his office they were all caught up with the ballots.
The owners of Midwest Direct are reportedly supporters of President Trump, but there’s no evidence the company did anything wrong.