Arizona Attorney General looks into “Sharpiegate” complaints
By Ethan Huff // Nov 06, 2020

A number of Arizona voters have filed complaints with their state attorney general's office over Sharpie markers they claim they were given that invalidated their ballots.


At some polling locations in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous, voters were handed Sharpies that upon being used, bled through ballots and potentially invalidated them.

Mark Brnovich, Arizona's top law enforcement official, has promised to look into the matter to figure out where Sharpies were used and whether or not it impacted the vote count.

"Voters are concerned that the use of Sharpies may have caused ballots to be rejected, spoiled, or cancelled," wrote deputy solicitor general Michael Catlett in a letter to election officials in Maricopa County.

Maricopa County Director of Elections Scott Jarrett was told that he needed to respond by noon on Thursday to the letter, which reflected hundreds of complaints from concerned voters.

Brnovich's office asked him which voting centers administered Sharpies, how many ballots might have been rejected due to their use, and the process that would need to be taken to remediate any ballots that were lost due to ink bleeding.

All across social media, many had demonstrated how the ink from a Sharpie bleeds right through a paper ballot, potentially rendering it unreadable.

In response to the letter from Brnovich's office, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors claimed that Sharpies "do not invalidate ballots," and that people do not need to be concerned about anything related to their use on Election Day.

"Sharpies are recommended by the manufacturer of the new vote tabulation equipment because they provide the fastest-drying ink," the board contends.

"The offset columns on ballots ensure that any bleed-through will not impact your vote. For this reason, Sharpies were provided to in-person voters on Election Day. People who voted by mail could use Sharpies, or blue or black pens. Our Elections Department has been communicating this publicly for weeks."

Arizona SOS Katie Hobbs says concerns about Sharpie use represent "misinformation"

Officials in Pima and Pinal counties, both of which were also accused of administering Sharpies, also responded to what is now being dubbed "Sharpiegate."

"The felt-tip pen ballot controversy burning through social media is false," indicated Pima County officials. "Don't get caught up in it. Arizona ballot tabulating machines can read ballots marked with a felt tip pen. Felt pens are discouraged because the ink can bleed through."

Officials in Pinal County were very brief in their response, indicating that no polling places there use Sharpies.

Katie Hobbs, Arizona's secretary of state, issued her own statement alleging that the complaints against Sharpie use are "misinformation."

"If you voted a regular ballot in-person, your ballot will be counted, no matter what kind of pen you used (even a Sharpie)!" she claims.

Laurie Aguilera, an Arizona voter, would beg to differ. She says that a Sharpie marker she was given ruined her ballot, and poll workers declined her request for another one, ultimately denying her vote.

Aguilera has filed a lawsuit claiming that Sharpies do not work for Arizona ballots. The suit requests that everyone who was given a Sharpie be allowed to fill out a new ballot with a different type of pen to ensure that they are properly counted.

"Tell them to openly prove using a live example that a marker bleeding through the ballot doesn't affect the tabulation machine," wrote one commenter at The Epoch Times, encouraging Arizona election officials to put their money where their mouth is.

"If it is really misinformation then they have nothing to worry about, right?"

Another suggested that all ballots filled out with Sharpies be independently process using different machines and with special oversight to ensure they are all appropriately counted.

There is a whole lot more to come with the election saga, and we will keep you abreast of it all at

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