Vendor: Ballot backlogs caught up


Associated Press

COLUMBUS — The printing and mailing of 2.4 million delayed ballots across Ohio and Pennsylvania is all caught up, the vendor responsible for the backlog announced Tuesday.

Cleveland-based Midwest Direct said in a statement that extra staff, expanded hours and added equipment were required to meet the “staggering volume of mail-in ballot requests for this election.”

Unprecedented demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic combined with equipment challenges at the company led to delays that left county boards of elections and voters in both states scrambling.

CEO Richard Gebbie said 1 million mail-in ballots requested, as well as 1.4 million Election Day ballots, were processed by Midwest and delivered to the Postal Service over the past 14 days.

“We are up-to-date with all ballot orders as of yesterday and we anticipate timely fulfillment as we move through the rest of the vote-by-mail process, which will continue through Saturday, October 31, the last day of mailing,” he said in Tuesday's statement.

The company initially served as a contractor or subcontractor for 16 Ohio counties, including those where Cleveland, Toledo and Akron are located. Because of the delays, nine of those counties opted out of those business arrangements and are going it on their own, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose tweeted in a video message Monday.

“It's really unfortunate and truly unacceptable that this vendor had overpromised and underdelivered as it related to getting ballots out as quickly as they should,” LaRose said.

LaRose stressed, however, that voting by mail in Ohio remains safe and secure.

Gebbie said last week that his firm’s business model for this election anticipated double the number of absentee requests fielded in 2016. Instead, it’s been triple.

Midwest Direct was also the contractor involved in the mailing of 29,000 ballots with wrong contests on them to voters in Pennsylvania's second-most populous county, Allegheny. Those voters were mailed corrected ballots.


asks court
to dismiss

By KANTELE FRANKO Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Lawyers for the Ohio hospital doctor charged with murder in 25 patient deaths accused the prosecutor of misconduct and asked Tuesday that the court dismiss the indictment handed up by a grand jury.

Former intensive care doctor William Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkillers for patients who died shortly thereafter in the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System. 

Prosecutors charged him only in cases involving at least 500 micrograms of fentanyl, saying doses that big in nonsurgical situations pointed to an intent to prematurely snuff out lives.

Husel's lawyers argue that Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien wrongly influenced the grand jury and prejudiced Husel by excluding information about a patient who received even larger dosages — a total of 2,500 micrograms of fentanyl plus 16 micrograms of hydromorphone in a 37-minute span — and survived for 10 days afterward, eventually dying with no trace of fentanyl in her system.

O'Brien didn't seek an indictment in that death “because he knew that presenting that evidence to the grand jury would reveal the truth — that 500 micrograms of fentanyl is not a ‘lethal dose,' and that administering such a dose does not indicate an intent to cause or hasten death,” the defense attorneys wrote in the court filing. They also requested a copy of the transcript of the grand jury proceedings, which are generally secret.