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Absentee ballot printing delayed in Westmoreland

Rich Cholodofsky
| Sunday, June 17, 2012, 2:54 a.m.

Westmoreland County elections officials hoped to have absentee ballots for the April 22 primary ready for distribution by the middle of next month.

That date might have to be pushed back because of a technical error that prompted county commissioners on Thursday to delay awarding a printing contract for more than 53,000 documents related to the primary.

Commissioners yesterday rejected the lone bid from William Penn Printing Co. Inc. of Pittsburgh to print absentee, provisional, sample and emergency paper ballots. Controller Carmen Pedicone said an improper bid bond, which is a security that the job will be completed, was included in the proposal and rendered it insufficient.

Pedicone will advertise for new sealed bids that will be opened and reviewed on March 4, the same day commissioners intend to award the contract and a day after county officials originally planned for the printing process to begin.

The county intends to print 7,650 sample Democratic and Republican ballots that will be distributed at the courthouse and posted at the 306 polling places on Election Day.

Plans call for printing 3,000 Democratic and 2,500 Republican ballots as well as 6,120 provisional ballots for each party. Another 12,130 emergency paper ballots for Democrats and 8,070 for Republicans are to be printed.

Any printing delays would only affect the absentee ballots, which are needed before the April 22 primary.

The county uses electronic touch-screen computerized voting machines that don't require any paper to be used on Election Day.

Solicitor R. Mark Gesalman said absentee ballots were expected to be ready for mailing by March 18, but that date may have to be pushed back. The county is required by law to start distributing absentee ballots no later than April 8.

When asked if the printing deal will affect the April primary, Gesalman said, "We don't expect it to."

Applications for absentee ballots are available and ballots sent to military members serving overseas are being printed in house and will not be affected by the delay, Gesalman said.

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