Clerk: Sharpie-type pens are safe for ballots

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud continue to flood social media, and one that’s been picking up a lot of hits could be best described as “Sharpiegate.”

If you voted in person, chances are you were supplied a Sharpie or other flair tip pen to fill out your ballot and the mark may have bled through to the other side.

Some voters worry that all those little dots that bled through to the other side would ruin their ballot and prevent their votes from counting.

“We have been getting a flood of phone calls, texts, emails concerned about the use of Sharpies on their ballots,” said Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons.

But Posthumus Lyons says that’s not the case.

Sharpie-type pens are the writing utensil of choice for voting officials.

“They dry quickly. And they make crisp, clear markings on the ballot, so there’s no ambiguity there. And because they dry quickly, they don’t gum up the tabulators,” Posthumus Lyons said.

She says if the machine was confused by the bleed-through, the tally on the zero tape, a long thin strip of paper resembling a grocery store receipt roll and prints out the number of votes cast on every ballot fed into a tabulator, would not match the number of votes cast on the ballot.

To prove it, Posthumus Lyons fed a mock ballot, complete with Sharpie bleed through into a tabulator.

“After I cast my ballot, you’ll see that each of these votes I made, despite the bleed-through on the ballot, was recorded,” Posthumus Lyons said.

“It will come through on the other side, but the machine won’t read it. It won’t affect another vote because we program our ballots to not have bubbles line up on one side the ballot to the other.”