'Sharpie ballots' have the attention of a Trump campaign hoping to flip Arizona

Vote-by-mail ballot
Posted at 2:08 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 17:08:41-05

PHOENIX — Arizona news station ABC15 has learned that an Arizona lawyer assisting the Trump campaign is looking at ballots filled out with Sharpies as one focus for what could become an attempt to flip Arizona to President Donald Trump.

The attorney says many Trump supporters who used Sharpies are worried that their votes are being thrown out as the counting process continues around Arizona. There is no evidence at this point that Sharpie votes have been disqualified.

The attorney, who has deep roots in the state’s election processing system, told ABC15’s Nicole Valdes that the Sharpie ballots are on the radar of those deciding what, if anything, they may do in court. The information was given on condition that the source would not be named. ABC15 has verified that the attorney has direct knowledge of the developing legal strategy for President Donald Trump in Arizona.

The information comes as ABC News reported Wednesday that Governor Doug Ducey told the White House he “sees something” that could get Arizona and its 11 electoral votes in the win column for the President.

At this point, there’s no sign of any movement toward actual litigation around the Sharpie ballots or any other vote casting or vote counting activity.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is on the record defending the Sharpie ballots, though a ballpoint pen is the recommended method for filling out a ballot. ABC15 checked in with attorneys representing Democratic candidates, who say they have not heard of any potential litigation yet.

Sharpie is the trademarked name of a permanent felt tip marker. Its use on Arizona ballots became a prominent conversation point on Twitter overnight.

The Maricopa County Elections Department says even if marks made by Sharpies or any felt tip marker on a ballot bleed through the paper, it won't impact their tabulator's ability to read contests. Maricopa County's tabulators are designed only to read the ovals for each contest, according to county election officials. Even if ink bleeds through to the other side of the ballot, the ink won't mark another contest, since ballots are printed in an "off-set" pattern, meaning contests on the back side of the ballot don't align with those on the front.

Republicans and the Trump campaign were shocked when Fox News declared Democrat Joe Biden the Arizona winner at about 9:30 p.m. on Election Day. Ducey Tweeted his displeasure as Fox News election analysts defended the decision.

Arizona remains too close to call in most media projections, but AP called Biden as the winner early Wednesday.

ABC15 data analyst Garrett Archer says as votes are counted, the President will likely pick up more votes than Biden and the Democrat’s lead will shrink.

It’s unclear if the President can overtake Biden, who is riding the wave of record early voting that favors Democrats.

Tabulation continues throughout the state, focusing on ballots that were dropped off on Election Day and those that arrived by mail and were not part of the early counting process that began October 20.