Trump Allies Are Pushing #SharpieGate Conspiracy Theory To Claim Election Theft

The theory, trending as #SharpieGate on social media, appears to have first emerged in Arizona and has since spread to parts of Pennsylvania. The claims are untrue: Election officials in both states have confirmed that Sharpies are an acceptable writing instrument for filling out ballots and that ballots are not being rejected due to Sharpie use.


Sharpie pens ruin Arizona ballots misses the mark?

“The felt-tip pen ballot controversy burning through social media is false. Don’t get caught up in it,” the government of Pima County, Arizona, tweeted Wednesday. “All ballots in which voter intent can be discerned will be counted,” the county wrote. “No ballots will be discarded because of the method used to color in the ovals.”

But hundreds of thousands of people may be seeing the conspiracy theory anyway, as Trump allies are easily able to promote it on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Trump ally, has also boosted the theory. On Wednesday afternoon, he said his office received “hundreds of voter complaints regarding Sharpies at polling locations” and sent a letter to Maricopa County demanding answers.

As states across the U.S. release vote totals for the presidential election, some social media users are falsely claiming that ballots are being invalidated in Arizona. The supposed culprit: Sharpie markers.

In what’s come to be known as #Sharpiegate, social media posts suggest that election officials in Maricopa County provided voters with Sharpie pens, which interfered with ballots being recorded, specifically those for President Donald Trump.

Arizona election officials say that voting with a Sharpie would have no impact on the votes being recorded by tabulation machines, and if there was an issue, there is a process that would keep the ballots from being canceled out.

Here’s a look at the facts:

CLAIM: Votes were eliminated in Arizona because people were made to use Sharpie pens to mark their ballots. This caused the tabulation machine to cancel the vote.

THE FACTS: As Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential vote in Arizona, social media posts circulated falsely suggesting that votes for Trump were canceled because people were told to use Sharpies to fill out their ballots.

Arizona election officials confirmed that Sharpies were used in voting, but they said that would not invalidate a ballot. The Maricopa County Elections Department tweeted on Election Day that voting centers use Sharpies so that ink does not smudge when ballots are counted.

“New offset columns on the ballots means bleed through won’t impact your vote!” they tweeted in an informational video.

One video with more than 821,000 views showed a woman speaking about how four different polling places were using Sharpies and a man asks her if “those ballots are not being counted” and “are invalid.”
Allies of US President Donald Trump are promoting a baseless conspiracy theory that poll workers tricked Trump voters by providing them with Sharpies to cast their votes, and then rejected the ballots due to the use of the marker.

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