A printing company in Ohio has come under scrutiny after promising to create and send tens of thousands of absentee ballots to voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania — and then failing to deliver many of these ballots on time.
Midwest Direct, a Cleveland-based mailing company, was contracted by dozens of overwhelmed counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania to help them fulfill the unusually large need for absentee ballots this year.
The company, however, has “failed to deliver promised ballots” on time to several counties, The New York Times reported Friday, including more than 50,000 ballots in Ohio’s Lucas County and 50,000 in Butler County.
In Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, more than 28,000 ballots were sent to the wrong addresses, Newsweek reported.
According to the Times, several of the affected counties are now desperately seeking alternatives to ensure voters get their ballots on time.
“They overpromised and underdelivered,” Diane Noonan, director of the Butler County Board of Elections, told the Times. “We would get different answers from different people we talked to. Was I happy with it? No, I was not.”
Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said he was similarly disappointed with Midwest Direct.
“Given the political tone of the land, we had hoped vendors that were selected based on their merit would perform of their merit,” Gerken said during a Wednesday news conference, according to WTVG-TV. “This one hasn’t done that.”
In a statement published Thursday, Midwest Direct acknowledged the delays but said its workers were putting in overtime to ensure that ballots are getting “into the hands of voters quickly and accurately.”
“As county boards of election throughout the country began to prepare for the 2020 election, they realized the demand for mail-in ballots would exceed the demand that occurred during the 2016 election. To meet that demand, sixteen counties in Ohio and two counties in Western Pennsylvania hired our firm to help expedite the ballot distribution process,” the company wrote, adding that it bought extra equipment and hired additional staff to manage the deluge of ballots.
But Midwest Direct said even these measures weren’t sufficient to handle the “staggering” demand.
“It is fair to say today that no one ― not the various boards of elections, not Ohio’s Secretary of State, not our company ― anticipated the staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests that has actually occurred,” the company said. “One of our counties, for instance, told us to expect 40,000 to 70,000 mail-in ballot requests. To date, we have processed 95,000 requests for that county alone. With another 14,000 ballots requested from the county this week. The estimates provided to us from the counties were not what ended up as the reality.”
According to the Times, Midwest Direct’s owners ― brothers Richard and James Gebbie ― are self-declared supporters of President Donald Trump.
A “Trump 2020” flag was photographed flying in front of the company’s headquarters this summer, the paper noted.
It added, however, that “there is no evidence Midwest Direct has done anything improper with the ballots.”
The company pledged on Thursday “to do everything [we] can to make sure the mail-in ballot process proceeds expediently.”