Sharpies do not invalidate San Diego County ballots, election officials say

Presidential Election 2020
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SAN DIEGO – If you filled out your ballot with a Sharpie pen, don’t fret: the county’s top election official says your vote will count.

Social media rumors this week were swirling which falsely claimed election officials at Arizona polling locations were deliberately handing voters Sharpies to invalidate votes. Election officials in Maricopa County said the pens were provided at in-person voting locations, noting Thursday the fast-drying ink make them the “preferred way” to mark ballots for its tabulation machines.

Claims that they invalidate votes have been debunked by fact-checkers at the Associated Press, USA Today and Snopes, among others.

They also don’t ruin ballots in San Diego County, Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said. But Sharpies were not provided to voters at any of the county’s 235 super polling locations with officials instead issuing archival pens, according to Vu.

“It’s one of those situations of national discussions and the best of disinformation that’s out there is seeping into the minds of voters, whether we’re counting their respective ballots or not,” he said.

Archival pens were determined to be the “best marking instrument” for local ballots after more than a decade of research, Vu’s office said in a tweet Thursday. These types of pens have ink specifically designed to be resistant to weathering and fading so markings will last a long time, he said.

But local voters still are able to use Sharpies without issues.

“If you used a Sharpie and it bled to the other side, it’s not going to mark a bubble on the opposite side of that page or that ballot,” Vu said.

FOX 5 Legal Analyst Wendy Patrick credits the county for its proactive response to the so-called “SharpieGate” claims before they became a larger issue.

“They came out in front of the story and they really wanted to assure all San Diego voters that yes, their votes would be counted,” Patrick said. “Why was that such a good idea? Because we are now looking at lawsuits all across the nation, so voters are justifiably concerned about some of the issues they’ve been following in other jurisdictions potentially happening here.”

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