Election officials in Arizona are tamping down viral claims online that voters who used Sharpie pens on their ballots wouldn’t have their votes counted.
The confusion, fueled largely on social media, has prompted Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to tweet: “IMPORTANT: If you voted a regular ballot in-person, your ballot will be counted, no matter what kind of pen you used (even a Sharpie).” In Maricopa County, officials said Sharpies are actually the preferred method of marking ballots.
But the state attorney general’s office said it will look into “hundreds of voter complaints regarding Sharpies at polling locations.”
Some more context: In one video viewed more than a million times on Twitter– and shared widely on Facebook and Instagram – an unidentified woman claims without proof that poll workers tried to force her to use a Sharpie and that she insisted on using an ink pen, to make sure her vote would count. The video was shot outside the Communiversity at Queen Creek polling site in Maricopa County by Marko Trickovic, who can be heard asking her: “So What they’re doing is they’re telling people to use Sharpies – that way those votes aren’t counted?” She responds, “Yes.”
The woman says four different polling places between “Queen Creek and the edge of Gilbert,” which is near the border with Pinal County, insisted that voters use Sharpies instead of pens. At one point, Trickovic asks her to confirm whether poll workers were “yanking” pens from voters hands. She says, “Yes, they tried to do that to me.”
State Attorney General Mark Brnovich tweeted that, “We have received hundreds of voter complaints regarding Sharpies at polling locations. Accordingly, we sent this letter to Maricopa County election officials. Let's get some answers.”
The letter asks the Maricopa County Elections department several questions, including what voting sites used Sharpies and how many ballots were rejected.
Maricopa County officials said poll workers were actually trained to require voters to use Sharpies at voting sites.