Supporters of President Donald Trump spread a rumor that their votes were being thwarted in Arizona by poll workers giving them a sharpie brand pen that would cancel their ballot, but election officials refuted the claims.
Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union chairman, was among those spreading the theory on social media Wednesday.
AZ update: apparently the use of sharpie pens in gop precincts is causing ballots to be invalidated. Could be huge… https://t.co/voKn5hJD8s— Matt Schlapp (@Matt Schlapp) 1604508713.0
Twitter restricted the visibility of the tweet over the disputed claims.
Schlapp tweeted, "apparently the use of sharpie pens in gop precincts is causing ballots to be invalidated. Could be huge numbers of mostly Trump supporters."
Local officials respond
Local officials in Arizona attempted to debunk the theory.
"The felt-tip pen ballot controversy burning through social media is false. Don't get caught up in it," read a tweet from the Pima County government.
The felt-tip pen ballot controversy burning through social media is false. Don't get caught up in it. Arizona ballo… https://t.co/UdXSCYKVXD— Official Pima County (@Official Pima County) 1604508659.0
"Arizona ballot tabulating machines can read ballots marked with a felt tip pen. Felt pens are discouraged because the ink can bleed through," they added.
They went on to explain the process of deciphering the ballot and counting it even if the ink bleeds through on the ballot.
"All ballots in which voter intent can be discerned will be counted. That's also in the manual. No ballots will be discarded because of the method used to color in the ovals," they added.
The public information officer for the Arizona Secretary of State said in an email to the Associated Press that people were misunderstanding the cancellation of ballots.
"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," said Sophia Solis. "Depending on when they returned their replacement ballot, that ballot is most likely still being processed by the county."
Despite the statement of election officials, some continued to spread the theory on social media.
"This is one example of fraud and maybe that happened in multiple places and states. Especially those Pro-Trump. The center gave the voter a sharpie to mark the options and this type of ink is not readable by the machine to register the votes," read one tweet.
Apparently, word got out that conservatives tend to vote on election day. SO, several poll workers in Arizona, chos… https://t.co/oqzOW6OhyC— Becky Bunde (@Becky Bunde) 1604496164.0
People in Arizona are messaging me saying that their ballots have been canceled. Here's the kicker: Their polling… https://t.co/ek74IvYwyo— Alexandra Lains 🇺🇸 (@Alexandra Lains 🇺🇸) 1604507990.0
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter
demanding answers about the controversy from Maricopa County election officials after receiving hundreds of complaints.
On Wednesday, Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes admitted in a video that Joe Biden was leading Trump in the ballot count in Arizona by 93,000 votes, but noted that the president only needed 58% of 605,000 votes that were still being counted in order to beat Biden.
Here's more about the sharpie election conspiracy:
Arizona AG opens inquiry into Sharpie ballot complaints, elections officials say votes will count www.youtube.com