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updated: 7/3/2012 8:56 AM

DuPage won't change ballot provider -- for now

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Saying there's not enough time to make a switch, the DuPage Election Commission isn't going to change its ballot vendor.

As a result, Liberty Systems -- the same vendor whose subcontractor printed hundreds of oversized ballots that caused some Election Day problems during the March primary -- will supply ballots for November's general election.

Members of the revamped election board said Monday they want to rebid the multimillion-dollar printing contract Liberty Systems has had since April 2009. The four-year deal, which expires in April, was one of 12 contracts highlighted in a recent report critical of the commission's procurement and ethics practices.

"It is the intent of the election commission board to bid out all of our contracts," board Chairwoman Cathy Ficker Terrill said. "All the contracts are going to go through our new procurement policy."

A recent report by county-hired Crowe Horwath LLP said the commission failed to follow its own guidelines when it awarded 12 contracts, including the printing contract with Liberty Systems. The consultants recommended all existing contracts be reviewed to be sure they were properly awarded.

As part of the commission's new procurement policy, the county will coordinate and oversee the agency's major purchases.

"There is a desire on the board to make everything transparent," Commissioner Arthur Ludwig said. "Everything will be competitively bid."

The commissioners were hoping to start by seeking price quotes for printing the ballots for November.

But county officials informed them the bidding process would take about 75 days. That could have prevented the commission from getting early ballots to members of the armed forces on time.

So the election board decided to delay changing ballot vendors.

"It was too critical to try to chance it," Ludwig said. "We can't jeopardize the integrity of the upcoming election."

While Liberty Systems will provide the November ballots, Terrill said any part of the printing contract that's not time sensitive will "go to bid in an expedited fashion."

Even though the contract doesn't expire until April 2013, the commission can terminate the deal as long as it provides 30 days notices, officials said.

"We will be giving them notice after the ballots are printed for this election that we are going out to bid for the April 2013 election," Terrill said.

Meanwhile, Ludwig said he's "pretty comfortable" that the process of getting vendors will be "better in the future."

Attempts to contact a representative of Liberty Systems on Monday were unsuccessful.

In March, Liberty Systems supplied about 300 ballots to DuPage that were printed marginally too large to fit into scanning machines on Election Day. At the time, state election officials said the oversized ballots were produced by a printing company that Liberty Systems used.

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