No, Sharpies Are Not Disqualifying Your Ballot

Republican activist Matt Schlapp makes an unsupported claim.
The Maricopa County Recorder's office has touted its use of fine-tip Sharpies on ballots to prevent smudging, even posting a whole video yesterday touting a new ballot design that prevents any ink that bleeds through from affecting votes on the opposite of the ballot.

Despite this, some Republicans are now falsely claiming on Twitter that poll workers distributed Sharpies as a way to suppress conservative voters.

The national Students for Trump account tweeted out a video, from an unknown source, of people who said they had been told to stop handing out ballpoint pens at polling locations. Fox News contributor Matt Schlapp has repeatedly made the same claim. Each has received thousands of retweets.

There's just one problem: The places where people claim this was happening — Chandler, Queen Creek, and Gilbert — are all located inside Maricopa County.

"Vote Centers use fine tip sharpies as they have the fastest drying ink, therefore preventing smudges when put through the Vote Center tabulation equipment," reads the Maricopa County Recorder's office website. "This is one of the upgrades of our new equipment and new ballots."

The website also says it's fine to use Sharpies for filling out your ballot at home.

In this video released ahead of the election, the Maricopa County Recorder's office explains how ballots cannot be affected by bleed-through because the ovals on each side are offset from each other.

Maricopa County Elections has yet to return a call from Phoenix New Times, but told ABC15 reporter Nicole Valdes that any in-person ballots were counted as soon as they were turned in. If there was an issue, the ballot would have been returned on the spot.

President Donald Trump and other Republicans have repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the integrity of the election process leading up to the election. Locally, a Trump-aligned marketing firm paid teens to spam social media with posts attempting to sew doubt about election integrity over the summer. That effort was at the behest of Turning Point USA, a young conservative group headed by Valley local Charlie Kirk, who also chairs the Students for Trump group pushing the Sharpie conspiracy theory.