No change in DuPage ballot provider

The DuPage County Election Commission will keep its existing ballot provider, despite attempts by other vendors to get the contract to print ballots for the February and April local elections.

Members of the election board decided to rebid the printing contract that Liberty Systems has had since April 2009 after the pact was mentioned in a report critical of the commission’s ethics and procurement practices.

But after reviewing proposals from Liberty Systems and four other companies, officials decided the Wheaton-based firm was the lowest qualified bidder.

“It was clear that Liberty has met the criteria and has the best pricing,” Executive Director Robert Saar said.

A second company, Fidlar Election Services, met all the technical specifications required by the commission. But Fidlar’s proposed pricing was the second highest out of the five vendors.

On Friday, the three-member election board voted 2-0 to award the ballot printing contract to Liberty Systems. Board Chairwoman Cathy Ficker Terrill was absent.

As part of the new contract, Liberty Systems will be paid $116,350 to produce 350,000 ballots for the April election, officials said. That’s about $60,000 less than what it was planning to charge the commission before the work was rebid.

William Barrett, Liberty Systems’ managing partner, said after the vote that he was “thankful for the board’s approval.”

But some are expressing concern about Friday’s decision, including Bob Peickert, DuPage Democratic Party chairman.

Peickert is calling on DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin to investigate the relationship between Liberty Systems and the election commission.

“The (Crowe) Horwath report said there were problems with awarding of the contract with Liberty Systems four years ago,” Peickert said. “If the election commission is certain that there were no legal or ethical issues, they should cooperate in every way with an investigation.”

Crowe Horwath is the consulting firm DuPage hired to do an assessment of the commission. It found the commission didn’t follow its own guidelines when it awarded 12 contracts, including three with Liberty Systems.

Cronin responded to the report by appointing all new members to the election board.

One of those appointees, Commissioner Arthur Ludwig, said on Friday that he saw no problem with the way Liberty Systems got its new contract. “We’re saving $60,000,” he said.

While Liberty Systems will produce DuPage’s ballots, it still must compete with other firms to keep two other printing-related contracts with the commission. Barrett said he “welcomes” the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to the other bidding processes,” Barrett said.

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