FACT CHECK: Were Arizona Votes Written in Sharpie Thrown Out? #SharpieGate, Explained

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A new conspiracy theory is traveling around the internet alleging that some Trump voters have been intentionally disenfranchised by being encouraged to mark their ballots in felt-tip pen. #SharpieGate believers claim that Arizona ballots written with felt-tip pens have been tossed — but there’s no proof that this is true.

In fact, election officials in Arizona have confirmed that they’ve had no problem reading and then tallying election ballots that were filled in with Sharpies or other felt-tip pens. The official Twitter account for Pima County, Arizona, dismissed this theory in a tweet on Wednesday. The tweet reads:

The felt-tip pen ballot controversy burning through social media is false. Don’t get caught up in it. Arizona ballot tabulating machines can read ballots marked with a felt tip pen. Felt pens are discouraged because the ink can bleed through.

The account added in a subsequent tweet, “If it does bleed through, the ballot will most likely get sent for duplication so it can be read by the scanner.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Far-Right Conservatives Spread the #SharpieGate Conspiracy Theory on Twitter & Other Social Channels

A number of far-right conservatives are spreading the felt-tip pen conspiracy theory. Matt Schlapp, an American Conservative Union chair, tweeted on Wednesday morning, “AZ update: apparently the use of sharpie pens in gop precincts is causing ballots to be invalidated. Could be huge numbers of mostly Trump supporters. More to come”

Schlapp doubled down on the #SharpieGate theory throughout the morning. He tweeted later, “3 more Trump supporters just contacted me who voted in AZ w sharpies and now are getting stonewalled as they try to verify they are in Trump’s tally. This is happening in America #SharpieGate  #StopTheSteal.”

Many, including Schlapp, have even suggested that voting officials intentionally encouraged Trump voters to use felt-tip pens so their ballots wouldn’t be counted. However, as election officials in Arizona clarified, this would not discount a vote.

One voter tweeted in reply to Schlapp, “I had a similar situation happen in Gilbert AZ early voting in person. I also remember receiving an informational mailer advising our machines were recently upgraded to read sharpies & ball point pens. I would recommend those who share experiences call and give your story as well.”

In the video above, a voter says she witnessed ballots cast by others using Sharpies being rejected from the voting machines before being “slid … into the front.”

The Official Pima County Twitter account stated, “All ballots in which voter intent can be discerned will be counted. … No ballots will be discarded because of the method used to color in the ovals.”

The #SharpieGate conspiracy has largely been treated with dismissal from those in the mainstream media. Though Trump has supported several conspiracy theories about voter fraud and election tampering in the last 24 hours, he has not acknowledged this one.

Live Election Results & Map for the Presidential Race in Arizona

Heavy has partnered with Decision Desk HQ to provide live results for the presidential race in every state in the country. Here are the latest results for the race in Arizona:

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