PHOENIX — A conservative legal group has filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County claiming that votes were disqualified because some people were given a Sharpie to fill out their ballots.
The legal group, Public Interest Legal Foundation, says that the ink from the Sharpies bled through the ballots causing them not to be counted.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and the Secretary of State, however, both say concerns that surfaced Wednesday over the use of Sharpies are unfounded. Officials spoke out Wednesday morning, saying the use of a Sharpie to fill out a ballot is perfectly fine and no votes would be discarded for that reason.
Did you know we use Sharpies in the Vote Centers so the ink doesn’t smudge as ballots are counted onsite? New offset columns on the ballots means bleed through won’t impact your vote! Find a location before the polls close at 7 p.m. today at https://t.co/8YEmXbWyRL. pic.twitter.com/KKG2O8rQhf— Maricopa County Elections Department (@MaricopaVote) November 3, 2020
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a voter named Laurie Aguilera, who claims she was given a Sharpie to vote with and was concerned when the ink bled through her ballot. She claims she was told to submit the ballot anyway, and that it was denied. Neither the Secretary of State's Office nor County Recorder's Office have given any information on whether or not there was a separate issue that caused Aguilera's ballot to not be accepted.
The questions over Sharpie use on ballots came as ABC News reported Wednesday that Gov. Doug Ducey told the White House he “sees something” that could get Arizona and its 11 electoral votes in the win column for the President.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is on the record defending the Sharpie ballots, though a ballpoint pen is the recommended method for filling out a ballot.
Sharpie is the trademarked name of a permanent felt tip marker. Its use on Arizona ballots became a prominent conversation point on Twitter overnight.
The Maricopa County Elections Department says even if marks made by Sharpies or any felt tip marker on a ballot bleed through the paper, it won't impact their tabulator's ability to read contests. Maricopa County's tabulators are designed only to read the ovals for each contest, according to county election officials. Even if ink bleeds through to the other side of the ballot, the ink won't mark another contest, since ballots are printed in an "off-set" pattern, meaning contests on the back side of the ballot don't align with those on the front.
Republicans and the Trump campaign were shocked when Fox News declared Democrat Joe Biden the Arizona winner at about 9:30 p.m. on Election Day. Ducey Tweeted his displeasure as Fox News election analysts defended the decision.
Arizona remains too close to call in most media projections, but AP called Biden as the winner early Wednesday.
ABC15 data analyst Garrett Archer says as votes are counted, the President will likely pick up more votes than Biden and the Democrat’s lead will shrink.
It’s unclear if the President can overtake Biden, who is riding the wave of record early voting that favors Democrats.
Tabulation continues throughout the state, focusing on ballots that were dropped off on Election Day and those that arrived by mail and were not part of the early counting process that began October 20.
We will continue to follow the story throughout the day.