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Ill. State Board of Elections: Ballots marked with sharpie pens will be counted

Polling places using this equipment were supplied with recommended Sharpie pens for voter use.
Election officials in Arizona say ballots that used a Sharpie will still be counted.
Election officials in Arizona say ballots that used a Sharpie will still be counted.
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 3:32 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Illinois State Board of Elections wants all voters who used Sharpie pens to mark ballots on Election Day to know that their votes were counted, according to an announcement on Thursday.

“During Election Day and in the days since, the State Board of Elections received many calls from voters around the state concerned that their polling places provided them with Sharpie pens to mark their ballots and that this might cause problems with their votes being recorded,” according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Voters in the city of Chicago and suburban Cook County should be aware that the Cook County Clerk’s Office and Chicago Board of Election Commissioners use Dominion Voting Systems equipment for which Sharpie fine-point pens are the recommended ballot marking utensil, according to the announcement.

Polling places using this equipment were supplied with recommended Sharpie pens for voter use.

The State Board of Elections also received calls from voters concerned that ink from the Sharpie pens may have bled through the ballot to cause inadvertent marks on the reverse side. Some of these voters reported they had used traditional felt-tipped Sharpie markers, not the fine-point version recommended for Dominion systems, and were concerned about additional risk of bleed-through.

Ballots in Illinois are designed so that the “target area” -- the oval to be filled in to mark a vote -- on one side of a ballot does not align with a target area on the reverse side of the ballot. Thus, a vote on the reverse side could not be accidentally cast by ink soaking through. If ink were to bleed through to the reverse side of the ballot and produce a mark sufficiently prominent to be detected by the tabulator, the ballot would be returned to the voter for correction.

“Illinois' 108 local election authorities conduct extensive testing of all election equipment statewide before every election. This testing is designed to ensure that potential issues such as inadvertent marks on ballots or accidental use of unapproved writing tools do not cause a vote to go uncounted. Election judges are trained in procedures to ensure that ballots rejected by a tabulator can be remade and properly recorded,” according to the announcement.

The Illinois election community appreciates the attention voters have paid to this detail in the voting process.

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