Grant Sarver October 30, 2020

Image: Tiffany Tertipes

This year’s election looks a lot different to say the least. Turnout is booming across the country as states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida have already reached at least 80% of their total turnout in 2016. The coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented level of mail-in ballots being used. One might wonder where the millions upon millions of ballots come from.

The answer is simple: government contracting. County and state elections offices pay private companies to format and print the ballots for them. The government outsources a lot of its printing needs like tickets, forms, and bills. Government and project sizes vary, but there are usually some outstanding contracts.

The Office of the Secretary of State of Illinois is requesting proposals for the printing of the 2021-2022 Illinois Blue Book. The book is a comprehensive source for state government information. The Office plans to print 12,000 copies of the 544-page book by May 24, 2021. Bids for this opportunity are due November 9.


The town of Narragansett, Rhode Island, is requesting quotes for the printing of beach parking passes. The passes will need to be fade-resistant and able to be applied to car windshields. The passes, “must have perforated backing and be produced for installation in a dispenser allowing passes to be removed from the roll as dispensed.” Quotes for this opportunity are due November 16.

The government can do a lot of things, but printing millions of ballots on its own isn’t one of them. Thanks, in part, to government contracting for allowing record turnout to be possible and for governments to keep running smoothly.

About the Author

Grant Sarver is from Suwanee, Georgia. He is currently an undergraduate pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and Sociology at the University of Georgia with an expected graduation in May 2021. He is most interested in human rights and social equity and plans to work for an entity that helps fulfill people’s human rights.