On Wednesday, an Arizona voter filed an explosive lawsuit alleging that poll workers effectively disenfranchised her on Election Day and may have done the same to other voters. The lawsuit comes as President Donald Trump is disputing early reports calling the state for Joe Biden.
Laurie Aguilera voted in person in Maricopa County on Election Day, but poll workers provided her with a Sharpie marker instead of a pen. Aguilera “completed her ballot with the provided sharpie [and] noticed that the ink was bleeding through.” In the lawsuit, she claims that while she had voted in several election cycles before, this was the first time poll workers gave her a Sharpie to fill out her ballot.
Aguilera “fed her ballot into the ballot box” but “the ballot box failed to properly register her vote causing a poll-worker to cancel her ballot in [her] presence.” She requested a new ballot but the poll workers refused to give her one. The lawsuit claims that the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office ordered them not to do so.
Aguilera’s lawsuit also claims that “many other voters have experienced similar issues.” Ten anonymous plaintiffs joined Aguilera in the lawsuit.
This practice violates Arizona law, the lawsuit alleges. The law stipulates that an “electronic voting system” must “record correctly and count accurately every vote cast.”
“Plaintiff and those like her properly operated the County’s electronic voting system but, upon information and belief, it failed to automatically record her vote. Upon information and belief, it also failed to record her votes correctly and count them accurately,” the lawsuit claims.
“Arizonans possess a right to a ‘free and equal election’ under our state constitution,” the lawsuit adds. “This right is ‘implicated when votes are not properly counted.’”
“These voters were denied the right to vote. Arizona election officials allegedly were part of the problem, and denial of the right to vote should not occur because of failures in the process of casting a ballot,” J. Christian Adams, president and general counsel at the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which is representing Aguilera and the anonymous plaintiffs, said in a statement. “We are asking that all ballots that were uncured or denied be identified and allowed to be cured.”
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes assured voters who used a Sharpie to mock their ballots that the Sharpie would not invalidate their votes or affect tabulation.
“Vote Centers use Sharpies for the fastest drying ink, to prevent smudges going through the tabulation equipment,” Fontes claimed. “This is an upgrade of our new equipment & ballots. Bleed thru does not affect tabulation because the columns are offset & the machines can only read the bubbles.”
According to the state’s elections manual, a ballot review board duplicates ballots that cannot be read by the machine.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.