MARICOPA COUNTY, Arizona (KXAN) — Rumors and a video circulating on right-leaning social media communities on Wednesday claim voters in Arizona’s Maricopa County had their ballots rejected because Sharpie pens were used to fill them out.
The presidential race in Arizona was so tight and highly watched, however, the Associated Press announced a Joe Biden victory on Wednesday afternoon, with the former VP taking 51% of the vote.
Nevertheless, the rumors and the video of what some conservatives online are referring to as “Sharpiegate,” according to Reuters, are filtering across Facebook and Twitter — prompting both social media giants to label the video as “false information,” and “misleading” in claims that ballots were invalidated.
Maricopa County officials, meanwhile, previously released a video explaining that Sharpies and other writing tools do not interfere with ballots being accepted.
On Wednesday evening, Maricopa County again released a statement to voters debunking any claims or concerns.
“… Sharpies do not invalidate ballots. We did extensive testing on multiple different types of ink with our new vote tabulation equipment. Sharpies are recommended by the manufacturer because they provide the fastest-drying ink. The offset columns on ballots ensure that any bleed-through will not impact your vote. For this reason, sharpies were provided to in-person voters on Election Day. People who voted by mail could use sharpies, or blue or black pens. Our Elections Department has been communicating this publicly for weeks.”
The video in question, shows a woman wearing a pea green cardigan standing in a parking lot being asked questions by an unseen man recording. The woman says, “The people that were in front of me, there were two people in front of me that were given a Sharpie by the poll workers. It did not read their ballot. And they put it in there twice. I used a pen and it read my ballot.”
“So what they’re doing is they’re telling people to use the Sharpies so that their votes aren’t counted?” the man asks to which the woman agrees.
The man and the woman also claim that poll workers “yanked” pens from voters and gave them Sharpies.
The Arizona Secretary of State told CNN on Wednesday that, “There is no concern about ballots being counted because of the pen being used to count ballots.” Arizona’s State Attorney General’s Office said on Wednesday it directed Maricopa County officials to investigate. As of Wednesday evening, there are no updates on any findings.
Despite this, the unproven video has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook and was even shared by several prominent conservatives, Reuters reports.
Similar unsubstantiated rumors have cropped up online about similar situations in Michigan and Massachusetts — both of which are highly sought after in the election.
Maricopa County urged voters to be patient with vote counting and to also understand that delays are “evidence of democracy, not fraud.”