AP

Claim that Sharpie pens ruin Arizona ballots misses the mark

Nov 5, 2020, 6:31 AM
Maricopa County elections officials count ballots, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the Maricopa County ...
Maricopa County elections officials count ballots, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

As states across the U.S. release vote totals for the presidential election, some social media users are falsely claiming that ballots are being invalidated in Arizona. The supposed culprit: Sharpie markers.

In what’s come to be known as #Sharpiegate, social media posts suggest that election officials in Maricopa County provided voters with Sharpie pens, which interfered with ballots being recorded, specifically those for President Donald Trump.

Arizona election officials say that voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on the votes being recorded by tabulation machines, and if there was an issue, there is a process that would keep the ballots from being canceled out.

Here’s a look at the facts:

CLAIM: Votes were eliminated in Arizona because people were made to use Sharpie pens to mark their ballots. This caused the tabulation machine to cancel the vote.

THE FACTS: As Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential vote in Arizona, social media posts circulated falsely suggesting that votes for Trump were canceled because people were told to use Sharpies to fill out their ballots.

Arizona election officials confirmed that Sharpies were used in voting, but they said that would not invalidate a ballot. The Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted on Election Day that voting centers use Sharpies so that ink does not smudge when ballots are counted.

“New offset columns on the ballots means bleed through won’t impact your vote!” they tweeted in an informational video.

One video with more than 821,000 views showed a woman speaking about how four different polling places were using Sharpies and a man asks her if “those ballots are not being counted” and “are invalid.”

“They are invalidating votes is what they are doing,” the man says. He went on to suggest voters use a ballpoint pen instead.

“People are coming here to vote for Donald Trump, and all those votes are getting invalidated,” he says in the video.

Sophia Solis, public information officer for the Arizona Secretary of State, said in an email that votes would not be canceled if there was an issue with the ballot.

“If a voter’s ballot is listed as canceled, it usually means the voter made an additional ballot request if they needed to have their original ballot replaced,” Solis said. “Depending on when they returned their replacement ballot, that ballot is most likely still being processed by the county.”

Clint Hickman, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Steve Gallardo, the board’s only Democrat, published a letter to voters expressing concern about misinformation. They said officials tested a wide variety of pens with their vote-tabulation equipment and “Sharpies are recommended by the manufacturer because they provide the fastest-drying ink.”

According to the state’s election procedures manual, a ballot review board duplicates ballots that cannot be read by the machine in cases where they are damaged or smudged with ink.

Videos making the false claim about Sharpies were also widely shared on TikTok. TikTok said the claims on invalidated ballots violated its policy against misleading information around the elections and would be removed. Facebook said it has blocked the Sharpiegate hashtag on its platform and pointed to fact checks on the matter by its outside fact-checkers, including The Associated Press.

While election officials took to social media to debunk the Sharpie rumors, others in Arizona were not convinced.

Republican Congressman Paul Gosar added his voice to the Sharpie claims Wednesday with a tweet that said he was reaching out to the state attorney general’s office.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office sent a letter to Maricopa County election officials Wednesday demanding answers about which voting centers used the Sharpies and how many votes were rejected because of issues with the Sharpie ink.

A woman in the Phoenix area filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging vote tabulation equipment was unable to record her ballot because she completed it with a county-issued Sharpie pen. The lawsuit alleged Laurie Aguilera asked poll workers for a new ballot, but they refused her request.

She is seeking a court order that all Maricopa County voters whose ballots were rejected as a result of using a Sharpie be given a chance to fix their ballots. Aguilera also is asking for such voters to be able to be present while election officials count their ballots.

Megan Gilbertson, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Elections Department, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

___

AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco and Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this story.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

a man is pictured playing call of duty...
The Associated Press

FTC sues to block Microsoft-Activision Blizzard $69B merger

The FTC’s complaint points to Microsoft’s previous game acquisitions where Microsoft made some game titles exclusive despite assuring it wouldn't.
17 hours ago
Respect for Marriage Act...
MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions passes House

President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, a relief for many.
17 hours ago
a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
2 days ago
A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
3 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
10 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Claim that Sharpie pens ruin Arizona ballots misses the mark