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No, Sharpies don't invalidate ballots in Arizona

On Wednesday, Republicans who wanted to voice doubts about the legitimacy of the election results in Arizona, where former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ran before President Trump, began spreading a conspiracy theory about the use of felt-tip pens in state polling stations.

The viral rumor, shared by one of Mr. Trump's sons, Eric, and other prominent Republicans, including some who called it "Sharpiegate," claimed that election officials provided Trump voters with felt-tip pens to mark their ballots Some claimed to have invalidated these ballots by making them illegible to voting machines.

But Arizona officials said that claim was not true and that votes recorded with felt-tip pens would continue to be counted.

"These ballots are counted," Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a local television interview Thursday.

Ms. Hobbs said officials in Maricopa County, the state's largest county, deliberately moved the columns on their ballot papers to avoid misinterpretation by marking on the opposite side of the page. And she said the state's electoral authorities had put in place procedures to ensure that ballot papers were counted.

Maricopa County officials also said that polling station voters have been given fine markings not to invalidate their votes, but because “they have the fastest drying ink, preventing stains when passed through the voting center's voting machines . "

Officials in Pinal and Pima counties also denied the allegations, saying the state's tabulating machines can read ballot papers, which are marked with felt-tip pens.

"Because of the method used to color the ovals, no ballots will be discarded," Pima County's official Twitter account said.

Ms. Hobbs said in an interview on Wednesday that claims about felt-tip pens distorting the number of votes were completely false.

"This is a conspiracy theory," she said. "Valid ballot papers are counted."

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