No, Sharpies Aren’t Invalidating Ballots in Arizona

On Wednesday, Republicans looking to cast doubts on the legitimacy of election results in Arizona, where former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was running ahead of President Trump, began circulating a conspiracy theory about the use of felt-tip pens at the state’s polling stations.

The viral rumor, which was shared by one of Mr. Trump’s sons, Eric, and other prominent Republicans, including some who called it “Sharpiegate,” alleged that poll workers had provided Trump voters with felt-tip pens to mark their ballots, which some claimed invalidated those ballots by making them unreadable by voting machines.

But Arizona officials said that there was no truth to that claim and that votes recorded with felt-tip pens would still be counted.

“Those ballots are being counted,” Arizona’s secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, said in a local TV interview on Thursday.

Ms. Hobbs said that officials in Maricopa County, the state’s largest county, had deliberately offset the columns on their ballots to prevent misreadings from a mark bleeding through to the opposite side of the page. And she said that the state’s election authorities had processes in place to ensure that ballots with stray marks would be counted.

Maricopa County officials also said that voters were given fine-tip markers at polling places not to invalidate their votes, but because “they have the fastest drying ink, therefore preventing smudges when put through the Vote Center tabulation equipment.”

Officials in Pinal and Pima counties also refuted the claims, saying that the state’s tabulating machines can read ballots marked with felt-tip pens.

“No ballots will be discarded because of the method used to color in the ovals,” Pima County’s official Twitter account said.

Ms. Hobbs said in an interview on Wednesday that the claims about felt-tip markers distorting vote counts were completely false.

“This is a conspiracy theory,” she said. “Valid ballots are going to be counted.”

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js