A printing company whose owners are self-declared supporters of President Donald Trump and was tasked with meeting the huge increased demand to absentee voting, has been criticized for not delivering ballots to voters on time in the crucial battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Cleveland-based Midwest Direct faces scrutiny for not getting tens of thousands of ballots to areas such as Lucas and Butler Counties in Ohio, and Allegheny County in Pennsylvania on time, The New York Times reported. The company has said it was working overtime to get the ballots to those who want them.
“They overpromised and underdelivered,” Diane Noonan, director of the Butler County Board of Elections, told the Times, adding, “was I happy with it? No, I was not.”
Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken also took aim at Midwest Direct, telling WTVG-TV: “We had hoped vendors that were selected based on their merit would perform of their merit. This one hasn’t done that.”
Other problems have beset the company, with 28,000 voters in Allegheny County being sent wrong mail-in ballots because of a printing error. The company says it was a mapping error and the ballots have been corrected.
The Times reported that Midwest Direct’s owners were brothers Richard and James Gebbie, who were open about their support for the incumbent president. A “Trump 2020” flag was photographed in front of the company’s headquarters earlier this year, although it is no longer there, the Times reported.
Richard Gebbie said in September that he did not have an opinion on Trump’s false claims that voting by mail could lead to a fraudulent election outcome, but insisted that the ballots his company mailed met strict security standards.
There is no evidence Midwest Direct did anything improper with the ballots and election security experts say a vendor can not tamper with the integrity of absentee ballots which are printed without regard for the political leanings of voters, the Times reported.
Newsweek has contacted Midwest Direct for comment. In a statement on Thursday, it said that it had brought in extra equipment and staff to meet demand but counties had given lower estimates of the ballot numbers that were required.
“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 statement said.
It said that it was in regular contact with Ohio’s secretary of state, and board of election clients such as Allegheny and Lucas counties. With mail tracking software, 85 percent of ballots it was processing were getting to voters within two days.
“We know how important this election is to everyone in our country and we pledge to do everything our company can to make sure the mail-in ballot process proceeds expediently.”
“Our staff is working sixteen hours every day to make sure everyone who wants a ballot in the counties we are serving gets one in time to cast their vote.
“We know how important this election is to everyone in our country and we pledge to do everything our company can to make sure the mail-in ballot process proceeds expediently,” the statement said.