Lawsuit Seeks Remedy for Rejection of ‘Sharpie’ Voters’ Ballots in Arizona

Lawsuit Seeks Remedy for Rejection of ‘Sharpie’ Voters’ Ballots in Arizona
A Maricopa County Elections Department staff member counts ballots in Phoenix, on Oct. 31, 2020. Early voting lasted from Oct. 7 through Oct. 30 in Arizona, which had a record number of early voters. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF)-backed attorneys are headed to court after filing a suit representing an unknown number of Arizona voters whose ballots were rejected after being filled out with Sharpie markers that election officials told them to use.

The suit was prompted by events like those described in a statement to the Superior Court of Arizona for Maricopa County that was obtained Nov. 5 by The Epoch Times.

In the statement, poll worker Joshua Banko of Scottsdale said that “starting at the very beginning of the day, voters began experiencing problems feeding their ballots into the tabulation machine. This caused significant delays in voting and lasted throughout the day.”

Banko said the device was “telling me that it was detecting errant or extraneous lines outside of the voting section of the ballot. However, in my presence, many voters showed their ballot to the elections marshal and the site inspector to demonstrate that there were no errant marks on their ballot.

“Ballots that were rejected by one machine were tried on the other tabulation machine and in different orientations, always without success. For these reasons, I believe that the issue was caused by the use of Sharpies at the polling location.”

While it isn’t known how many voters experienced the problems described by Banko, he estimated that at least 80 percent of those who tried to vote in his location were affected.

“There was a steady flow of voters through the location all day with long lines all day,” Banko said. His day at the polling station began at 5:30 a.m. and continued into the evening, he said.

The PILF suit is intended to cover those who come forward who were “similarly impacted.”

Maricopa County resident Laurie Aquilera said in the suit that she “was provided with a Sharpie by the poll workers with which to mark her ballot. Plaintiff completed her ballot with the provided Sharpie. While completing it, she noticed that the ink was bleeding through.”

Aquilera claimed she had never previously been required by Arizona workers to mark a ballot using a Sharpie felt-tip pen when voting in Maricopa, which is the largest county in Arizona and encompasses much of Phoenix.

“Plaintiff fed her ballot into the ballot box. The ballot box failed to properly register her vote, causing a poll-worker to cancel her ballot in the presence of Plaintiff,” the suit said. “Plaintiff requested a new ballot but, upon information and belief, upon consultation with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, the poll workers refused to provide her with one.”

The suit contends that the use of the Sharpie prevented the voting process from providing the perfect assurance of an honest election required by Arizona state law.

“The provision of a Sharpie as a marking device fails to satisfy these requirements. It failed to provide for the maximum degree of correctness because at least some voters experienced issues having their ballots read because of the use of the Sharpie marking devices,” the suit states.

“It failed to provide for the maximum degree of impartiality. Nothing is more impartial than a machine that counts votes with perfect accuracy. Upon information and belief, some ballots marked with Sharpie marking devices had to have voter intent adjudicated by humans because the machines were unable to read them due to the use of Sharpies.

“The provision of a Sharpie as a marking device failed to provide for the maximum degree of uniformity insofar as not all voters were provided with Sharpies by poll workers.”

The spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Board of Elections didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

When asked if the suit has the potential to flip Arizona’s 11 electoral votes from former Vice President Joe Biden to President Donald Trump, J. Christian Adams, PILF’s founder and president, told The Epoch Times on Nov. 5 the purpose of the suit is unrelated to the Nov. 3 election results.

“This is nothing to do with Trump or Biden,” Adams said. “This is about vote denial. Our client, and others, had their vote denied because of a defective system. We want the opportunity for a cure.”

Attorneys representing Trump’s 2020 campaign committee have filed separate litigation in multiple states, seeking to ensure that only legal ballots are counted. The states include Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Georgia.

In Pennsylvania, a state appellate court ruled that Trump campaign poll watchers must be allowed to observe the counting process from within six feet of the counters.

“I can’t stress how big a victory this is,” said Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager told reporters following the decision.

Contact Mark Tapscott at [email protected]
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
Related Topics