‘Unacceptable’: Late absentee ballots are finally on their way in Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Absentee ballots that were supposed to be sent out on Oct. 6 are officially on their way. That’s according to an update from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Midwest Direct was hired by more than a dozen Ohio counties to print and mail absentee ballots.

The ballots were delayed in 16 counties, which include some of Ohio’s largest urban populations.

“Everyone who has requested an absentee ballot has been mailed one,” LaRose said Monday night.

LaRose called it “truly unacceptable.”

The issue affects voters in Butler, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Miami, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Union, Williams, and Woods counties.

LaRose said about half of the counties began printing and mailing absentee ballots in-house when they learned they wouldn’t be on time.

Midwest Direct CEO Richard T. Gebbie previously said his firm’s business model for this election anticipated double the number of absentee requests fielded in 2016. Instead, it’s been triple.

“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,” Gebbie said in a new 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.”

The company is also being blamed for sending thousands of ballots to the wrong people in Alleghany County in Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh.

The company has also been criticized for flying a Trump flag outside its headquarters in Cleveland, according to a New York Times story.

“We have freedom to vote for who we want and support who we want,” Gebbie said in an interview with The Times. “We fly a flag because my brother and I own the company and we support President Trump.”

In a new statement, Gebbie also spoke about allegations that his company was purposefully not sending out ballots to people registered to a certain political party.

“For the 10 years we’ve been producing ballots, Midwest has never held or prioritized ballot printing for any reason,” he said. “This year, we processed every ballot without regard to party, geography or county, as we always do. Any suggestion that our personal political beliefs prompted us to slow down ballot production and distribution is absolutely false.”

If you have requested an absentee ballot and not received one, it should be arriving in the mail this week.

You can still request an absentee ballot through noon on October 31.

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