Arizona officials debunk #SharpieGate conspiracy theory claiming the special pens were given to Trump supporters to invalidate their ballots
- #SharpieGate emerged on social media with Trump supporters claiming their ballots are invalid because they were asked to fill them out with Sharpie markers
- The fiasco was centered in Maricopa County, Arizona with voters claiming their were targeted at their polling centers for supporting Trump
- Arizona election officials said voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on their ballots and they would still be counted
- On Wednesday the Republican Attorney General’s Office in Arizona said they were investigating the Sharpie complaints from Maricopa County voters
Social media users are falsely claiming that ballots in Arizona are invalid because they were filled out with Sharpie markers – but officials were quick to quash such rumors stating they’re still valid.
#SharpieGate emerged on social media on Wednesday as Donald Trump supporters suggested that election officials in Maricopa County provided voters with the felt-tipped pens to interfere with their ballots.
Some people claimed they were targeted because they wanted to vote for Trump.
Trump is famous for using the Sharpie permanent marker.
However, Arizona election officials said 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.
On Wednesday the Republican Attorney General’s Office in Arizona said they were investigating complaints from Maricopa County voters over the Sharpie fiasco.
Deputy Solicitor General Michael S. Catlett sent a letter to Scott Jarrett, the Maricopa County elections director, requesting information on the validity of ballots completed by Sharpies by Thursday.
Social media users are falsely claiming that ballots across Arizona are invalid because they were filled out with Sharpie markers – but officials were quick to squash such rumors stating they’re still valid
Maricopa County Elections clarified that Sharpies are valid on ballots and were offered at testing centers because they have fast-drying ink ‘best suited for our Vote Center tabulators’
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors shared this notice Wednesday to squash the misinformation surrounding the Sharpies saying ‘Sharpies do no invalidate ballots’
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 on social media 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.’
‘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.
‘Three more Trump supporters just contacted me who voted in AZ w sharpies and now are getting stonewalled as they try to verify they are in Trump’s tally. This is happening in America #SharpieGate #StopTheSteal,’ lobbyist Matt Schlapp tweeted.
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.’
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.
Similarly, 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.
He tweeted: ‘This is propaganda and misleading. The issue is that hundreds of people who voted with sharpies have checked online and their votes were not counted. There may be an issue with the machines reading the sharpie. Authorization to use is not the issue and is misleading.’
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
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.
The Maricopa County Elections Department had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
In Arizona there are still 600,000 votes that need to be counted.
Only Fox News and the Associated Press have so far called Arizona’s eleven electoral college seats for Joe Biden with the New York Times and CNN among the major news organization believing the race still too close to call.
It comes as it was revealed that a data feed informing media organizations of the voting tally in the state was incorrectly showing that 98 percent of its votes had been counted for a period on Wednesday morning, casting further skepticism on the early calls.
In fact, only 86 percent had been tallied at the time, leaving hundreds of thousands more votes still to be taken into account.
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