July 26, 2022

Pens at the Polls: Preparing for Election Day

Election Day is just one week away, and the Maricopa County Elections Department is reminding voters what to expect if voting in person, including the style of pen that best marks the ballot and reduces the smudging commonly left by ballpoint pens.

The Elections Department is providing felt-tip pens for voters to use because Election Day ballot counting equipment needs the ink to dry fast. Slow drying ink like ballpoint pens, can easily smear inside the ballot counting machine. When the wet ink from the ballot smears inside the machine, it will not allow the tabulator to count any further ballots until it is repaired.

This can cause long lines and delays at the polls. The wet ink can also smudge on the voter’s ballot, potentially causing ink to smear into other ovals voters didn’t intend to mark.

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“We want people to have a smooth voting experience on Election Day and using the correct pen ensures a voter can watch their ballot be counted and there are no delays for others in line,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, District 3.  “The County has invested in the latest technology to allow voters to vote when and how they want. Using felt-tip pens protects that investment and your vote.”

Maricopa County is providing 211 Vote Centers on Election Day, rather than one assigned location. Vote Centers are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for in-person voting and for early voters to drop off ballots.

“Job one for this office is to make sure every legal and eligible voter has the best possible voting experience,” said Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. "In pursuit of that goal, voters will be supplied a pen with quick drying ink at all of our Vote Centers. This is important because other pen brands do not dry as quickly and can cause residue to build up inside the on-site tabulators and require them to be cleaned throughout the day.”

Vote Centers are located throughout Maricopa County serving rural communities, Native American tribes, and densely populated areas. On average, Vote Centers are less than two miles apart and are near bus routes and light rail lines.

Voters will continue to be able to view live wait times on our website at Locations.Maricopa.Vote, search for Vote Centers near them, find hours of operation and more.

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