Yes, your ballot still counts if you used a sharpie

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 19:59:11-05

WARREN, Mich- (WXYZ) — Confusion and rumors are swirling online over markers being used to fill out ballots. The City of Warren received markers from the state, and that's what they gave out to in-person voters on election day.

"I want to make sure my vote counts because it should count,” said Warren voter Lindsey Hooten.

Hooten is one of many Warren voters who contacted the 7 Action News Election Problem hotline, concerned that her polling location used markers instead of blue or black ink pens.

“You could see the bleeding through on that other side when I flipped it over to continue my vote,” Hooten said.

She explained that the machine declined her ballot at first, but a few tries later it was accepted. However, she isn’t convinced.

“I don’t think it went through, no," Hooten said. "I’m thinking it did not go through, and that concerns me.”

Warren City Clerk Sonja Buffa has been fielding calls about the markers all day after posts about it spread on social media. She assured us, Lindsey's vote did count.

"If there’s anything wrong with the ballot, you’ll get an alert message saying basically overvoted, blank, stray, it would tell you on the screen right away if there was an issue with the ballot” Buffa said about the machine.

She says ballots that used these specific markers were tested on the same machines numerous times with no issues, and the markers were also the same ones used in the August primaries. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also confirmed that the markers are perfectly acceptable to use.

Even though some of the markers bled through the paper, Buffa says it isn't an issue.

"The ballots are specifically designed to be offset, where the ovals would not mark on the other side for any candidates," Buffa explained. "They should feel rest assured their votes did count.”

Hooten says she's heard from many others also worried their votes didn't count. When she cast her ballot, she noticed the bleed-through and was concerned but didn't question poll workers about the marker.

"There was no issue until everything was brought up on social media,” Hooten said. “This all just hit the fan per say last night on social media.”

Buffa says if you have concerns about voting, get your information from the source. She encouraged concerned voters to give her a call and she can explain the process.

“Social media is huge and once somebody puts something out there, then everybody believes it," Buffa said.

Online results show that more than 70,000 ballots were counted in Warren. All of the precincts were given the same markers.