Cancelled ballots? Sharpies? Republicans shut out? Here’s what we know.

By: - November 6, 2020 3:41 pm

Photo by Kelley Minars | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Since Wednesday conservative protesters have been making false accusations of voter fraud and demanding that all “legal” votes be counted in Arizona while spreading misinformation about Republican ballots allegedly being “cancelled” or thrown out. 

Since then, a bevy of accusations have been swirling around social media, mostly in conservative circles, around the protests, how ballots are cast, the ballot counting process and more. 

Here are some questions and answers to some of those claims. 

Are out of state volunteers counting ballots? 

One claim making the rounds on social media earlier this week was that volunteers from California were counting ballots at the Maricopa County Elections Department. 

false claim elections

That isn’t true and would be illegal.

“Only registered Arizona voters are allowed to do process work on ballots and they are both Democrats and Republicans as told to the Arizona Mirror

However, there are political observers from out of state present, “but all have the authorization credentials required by law from a county political party chairman.” Those observers are not allowed to do ballot processing work, Solorio said. 

Did the protests stop the ballot counting? 

Many on the left have claimed that volunteers had to stop counting ballots due to threats of violence from the protesters. 

While a line of Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies prevented protesters from getting inside the building on Wednesday night, protests did not disrupt the vote counting process, Solorio said. 

“Staff did leave after the end of (the) second shift at 10:30 p.m. and results were announced on November 5, 12:36 a.m.,” Solorio said. 

Are Republicans not inside during the ballot counting process? 

There have been claims that Republican representatives are not present during the ballot counting process. However, GOP observers are present throughout the counting, both the Arizona Republican Party and Solorio said. 

However, AZGOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward has been critical of the process, claiming that Republicans have been “put in a corner.” 

Has there been an investigation into ‘SharpieGate’?

Many of the protesters are upset that Sharpies were used on ballots at Election Day polling sites, baselessly claiming that the markers were used to invalidate only Republican ballots. 

Many on the right, including Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, and Arizona Senator elect Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, have called for the use of Sharpies to be investigated. 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich did initiate an investigation into the use of Sharpies; less than a day later, he concluded that the “use of Sharpie markers did not result in disenfranchisement of Arizona voters.” 

New ballot-counting machines are in use this year, and the manufacturer recommends using Sharpies for maximum performance — state and county elections officials say their pre-election testing also determined Sharpies were the best way for voters to mark their ballots.

Can Arizona voters watch ballots be counted? 

Some have decried the lack of public access to the ballot-counting process in Arizona, saying that the public is being left in the dark. 

Arizona law requires all aspects of ballot-counting to be broadcast live on the internet, and is one of the most transparent ballot tabulation schemes in the nation. 

What does it mean if a voter’s ballot is listed as “cancelled” online? 

Many have also taken to social media to share photos of their ballot status showing that it shows their ballot as “cancelled” and have used this as evidence that voting with a Sharpie invalidated their vote. 

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs took to Twitter to explain this claim earlier this week, stating that it simply means that those who chose to vote in person instead of by early ballot were having the status of their early ballot cancelled and that their in-person ballot would be counted. 

Were vans sneaking in boxes of ballots? 

At one point on Friday, protesters began shouting that vans parked in the media section of the Maricopa County Elections Department were dropping off ballots. 

The vans in question belonged to local and national media who were there covering the protests and ballot counting. 

A video posted to TikTok and Twitter by NBC Reporter Gadi Schwartz showed protesters yelling at members of the media moving boxes out of their vans before showing what was in the back of their vans. 

“It’s camera equipment,” Scwartz says in the video. Schwartz tried to explain to those in attendance, but said on Twitter that those who believed in the conspiracy theory “weren’t having it.” 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.