July 25, 2021
Earlier this month, experts overseeing the election audit in Arizona vindicated the claims of many who called into question the use of Sharpie markers during the November 2020 election in Arizona.
During testimony before the Arizona Senate, Doug Logan, an auditor with Cyber Ninjas, testified that his firm found evidence supporting the concerns of many that Maricopa County’s use of Sharpies possibly led to their votes not being correctly counted.
What is Sharpiegate?
“Sharpiegate” was the term used to identify concerns voters had in parts of Arizona where they were instructed to fill out their ballots with a Sharpie marker. Many voters were worried that the felt-tip pen’s ink would bleed through the ballot, making it unreadable by a machine and thus keeping their votes from counting.
Before 2020, Maricopa County had clear instructions: Don’t use Sharpies on your ballots. But in the aftermath of the November election, county officials claimed they switched course and called for the use of Sharpies per the voting machines’ manufacture’s recommendations.
Dismissed As Crackpots.
In the days following November 4, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer there was no reason to worry.
“There is no concern about ballots being counted because of the pen that was used to make the ballots,” Hobbs said. “All of those ballots are being counted. And even if the machines can’t read them for some reason, the marker bled through to the other side, we have ways to count them.
Hobbs and her allies in the mainstream media dismissed Sharpiegate: “They’re going to be counted,” she asserted. “There’s absolutely no merit to saying this was some conspiracy to invalidate Republican ballots,” Hobbs claimed.
A “factcheck” from USA Today proclaimed that allegations that Sharpies led to ink leaking through the paper and ballots being discarded was “…unfounded and that processes are in place to ensure ballots are counted, regardless of what kind of writing implement is used to fill them out.”
Nearly a dozen Arizona voters quickly filed an explosive lawsuit alleging the bleed through of their ballots kept their votes from counting.
Laurie Aguilera voted in person in Maricopa County on Election Day, but poll workers provided her with a Sharpie marker instead of a pen. Aguilera claimed she “fed her ballot into the ballot box” but “the ballot box failed to properly register her vote causing a poll-worker to cancel her ballot in [her] presence.”
Aguilera’s also asserted many other voters experienced similar issues. Ten anonymous plaintiffs joined Aguilera in the lawsuit. Ultimately, the suit was dismissed.
The Trump campaign sued too over Sharpiegate, but the matter was dropped within days because the campaign (according to court documents) felt that Joe Biden’s margin of votes could not be overcome.
During the senate hearing in mid-July, Doug Logan, a Cyber Ninja auditor, testified that many ballots were out of calibration. In other words, not printed on the paper correctly. Logan testified that the out-of-sync ballots were likely caused by printer calibration issues.
Logan also showed an example of “bleed through” where a marker on thinly weighted paper led to ink leaking through on the paper.
Logan testified that ballots should have been printed on a specialty paper known as “vote-secure-paper,” which is thicker and has a special coating to protect against bleed through.
Maricopa County officials claimed that only the vote-secure-paper was used, but Logan noted his firm’s investigation has uncovered scores of ballots that were printed on thinly-weighted, non-secure paper.
Logan testified that because ballots were not properly calibrated and printed on thinly-weighted paper, there’s a possibility that voting machines miscounted the ballots (over-vote) or misinterpreted the ballots and counted it for the wrong candidate due to the leaked ink blots.
However, Logan says further analysis is needed to determine the full extent of the problem.
Click here to watch the testimony.