When states across the United States announced the total number of votes for the presidential election, some social media users falsely claimed that the votes were being voided in Arizona. The alleged culprit is: Sharpie markers.
In what is about to be called #Sharpiegate, social media posts suggest that election officials in Maricopa County provided voters with a Sharpie pen, which interfered with the recording of ballots, especially the votes for President Donald Trump.
Arizona election officials say voting with Sharpie will not affect votes recorded with the tablet machine, and if there is a problem, there is a process that will keep ballots from being canceled.
Here is a look at the facts:
REQUIREMENTS: Ballots have been disqualified in Arizona because everyone can use a Sharpie pen to mark their ballot. This causes the tablet machine to cancel votes.
FACT: When Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential vote at the Republican stronghold in Arizona, the social media posts went viral it is true that votes for Trump were canceled because people were supposed to use Sharpies to fill out their ballots.
Arizona election officials confirmed that the Sharpies were used to vote, but they said that would not lose the value of a ballot. The Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted on Election Day that polling centers use Sharpies to prevent ink from smudging when counting votes.
“New offset columns on the ballot mean skipping won̵7;t affect your vote!” they tweeted in an informative video.
A video with over 821,0000 views shows a woman talking about how four different polling places are using Sharpies and a man asking her if “those votes don’t count” and “are not valid. “.
“They are invalidating votes as to what they are doing,” the man said. He continued to suggest voters use ballpoint pens instead.
“People are coming here to vote for Donald Trump, and all those votes are going to be void,” he said in the video.
Sophia Solis, the Arizona Secretary of State’s public information officer, said in an email that the votes would not be canceled if there was a problem with the ballot.
“If a voter ballot is listed as void, that usually means the voter has requested additional ballots if they need to replace their original ballot,” Solis said. “Depending on when they return the replacement ballot, that ballot is most likely still being processed by the county.”
According to the state’s election procedure guidelines, a voting panel copies ballots that cannot be read by the machine in case they are damaged or smudged.
Videos that make false claims about Sharpies are also widely shared on TikTok. TikTok said the complaints about invalid ballots had violated their policy of the false information surrounding the election and would be removed. Facebook says it has blocked # Sharpiegate hashtags on its platform and only physically checked the issue by outside fact-checkers, including the Associated Press.
While election officials took to social media to overturn the Sharpie rumors, others in Arizona were not convinced.
Republican MP Paul Gosar added his voice to Sharpie’s statements Wednesday with a tweet saying he was contacting the state attorney general’s office.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office sent a letter to Maricopa County election officials on Wednesday asking for answers on which voting center used the Sharpies and how many votes were cast. declined because of problems with Sharpie ink.
AP Technology writer Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco contributed to this story.