Lawsuit filed over use of Sharpies on ballots; Arizona AG confident markers didn't disenfranchise voters

Court documents show a lawsuit has been filed against officials in Maricopa County officials over the use of Sharpies to mark ballots in the Nov. 3 election.

The lawsuit, filed by a purported Maricopa County registered voter named Laurie Aguilera 10 other people named "Does I-X," targets Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Clerk Fran McCarroll, and the various members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

According to the lawsuit, Aguilera voted in person on Nov. 3, and was given a Sharpie by poll workers to mark the ballot. Aguilera claims she noticed the ink was bleeding through the ballot, and that the ballot was not properly registered by the ballot box, which caused a poll worker to cancel her ballot.

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"Plantiff requested a new ballot but, upon information and belief, upon consultation with the Maricopa County Reorder's [sic] Office, the poll workers refused to provide her with one," the lawsuit reads.

Aguilera claims that many other voters have experienced similar issues, and that Arizona's Election Procedures Manual allows voters the opportunity to correct any errors before a ballot is cast and counted, or cast a replacement ballot if the ballot is not able to be changed or corrected.

The lawsuit, according to court documents, demands that all ballots that were allegedly denied as a result of the use of Sharpies be allowed to be cured, or fixed, in addition to allowing those affected to observe the counting of ballots, in person.

MORESharpies can be used on voting ballots in Arizona, officials say

Elections officials speak out on use of sharpies

The use of sharpies to mark ballots in the Nov. 3 election has been the source of controversy since Election Day wrapped up. The controversy arose when people claimed their ballots were not being counted after using Sharpies provided by voting locations in Maricopa County.

While black and blue ink is highly encouraged to fill in the ballot bubbles, Sharpie is also accepted, according to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Felt-tip pens are discouraged because the ink can bleed through the paper, but in Maricopa County, the bubble columns are offset so that bleeding ink will not impact a citizen's vote.

Maricopa County officials say they used fine-tip Sharpies in voting centers because they have the fastest-drying ink - this is crucial because the ballot is sent directly into the tabulation machine when voting in person.

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"We did extensive testing on multiple different types of ink with our new vote tabulation equipment," read a portion of a statement released by Maricopa County officials. "Sharpies are recommended by the manufacturer because they provide the fastest-drying ink."

Some people also claimed their ballot was canceled because of the Sharpies after checking online. Maricopa County officials say their "canceled" status is likely for people who had a mail-in ballot but chose to vote in person - effectively canceling their mail-in ballot.

On Nov. 5, the Arizona Attorney General's Office released a letter it sent to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office on the controversy over the use of sharpies in the election.

"AGO is satisfied that the mere use of Sharpie brand markers at voting centers in Maricopa County did not result in disenfranchisement," read a portion of the letter.

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