Photo credits Tiffany Tertipes/Unsplash
Photo credits Tiffany Tertipes/Unsplash

According to Arizona law, it is a class 2 misdemeanor to “[remove] or [destroy] supplies or conveniences furnished to enable a voter to prepare the voter’s ballot.”

A candidate for the County Board of Supervisors is telling followers to take the county’s pens from polling places and replace them with their own, a class 2 misdemeanor that could temporarily disable voting machines.

Gail Golec, a Republican candidate for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, suggested on social media that her supporters should tamper with the primary election by stealing the felt-tip pens provided by the county at polling locations. 

Golec’s post on Telegram, a social media site that has become increasingly popular among Republicans, reads:

“I just had someone give me an idea. When voting take the pentel pen with you and leave a blue pen behind. Eventually they will run out!”

The Importance of the Pen

The Maricopa County Elections Department has asked in-person voters to use the pens provided at the polls, which contain fast-drying ink, as opposed to ballpoint pens, which may smear if they are put through the tabulation machine before they are fully dry.

The wet ink could accumulate inside the tabulator, which would then be temporarily unable to count any more ballots until it is cleaned. The wet ink could also smear on the ballot itself, which could inadvertently mark other candidates’ ovals.

However, ballots that were mailed in and placed in drop boxes do not have that problem, as the ballpoint ink will have already dried by the time it is processed and placed inside a ballot machine.

Encouraging Criminal Behavior

According to the Maricopa County Elections Department, there have been reports of fast-drying pens being removed from polling locations.

On Tuesday afternoon, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell sent Golec a cease and desist, asking her to stop advising people to steal pens and to send out a retraction tweet urging voters to not steal from polling locations.

She also threatened legal action against the candidate, saying the Maricopa County Elections Department “reserve[s] the right to take any legal action necessary to protect the integrity of the election and the people’s right to vote.”

Golec has frequently posted disinformation about voting machines and Pentel felt-tip pens on Telegram in the days leading up to the election, repeatedly suggesting that voters bring their own blue ballpoint pens to the polls.

According to Arizona law, it is a class 2 misdemeanor to “[remove] or [destroy] supplies or conveniences furnished to enable a voter to prepare the voter’s ballot.”

If you witness this or other election crimes at the polls today, you can report violations to the Arizona Attorney General Election Integrity Unit or to local law enforcement. To report a violation that you did not witness first-hand, email EIU@azag.gov.

Looking for the latest Arizona news? Sign up for our FREE daily newsletter.