The top prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, issued a cease and desist notice to a Republican candidate who amplified a voter fraud conspiracy theory and told supporters to steal pens from polling places on Election Day.
Republican county governor candidate Gail Golec told her supporters on Aug. 2 to take the felt-tip pens provided at the ballot box, echoing baseless election-related claims that If the ballot is filled with other kinds of ink, it will not be counted.
After the 2020 presidential election, Arizona became a hotbed of election conspiracy theories. The prominent election deniers running for the Republican nominations for Arizona governor and secretary of state (chief election administrator) are among a wave of candidates backed by Donald Trump seeking the party’s nomination for November’s general election, revolving around electoral fraud The key to the campaign is swing state.
On her Telegram account, Ms Golec told her supporters to “keep your Pentel with you and leave a blue one. Eventually they will run out!”
In her letter, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell asked Ms. Gorek to retract her statement on Twitter, “admitting that no one should steal pens from polling places, and urging no one to do so.”
“Theft of any kind is known to be illegal; furthermore, encouraging theft of quick-drying ink pens specifically recommended for election day voting is a deliberate attempt to interfere with election administration and will have the deleterious effect of delaying the tabulation of election day ballots, Because wet ink can damage the polling center’s tabulation machines,” Ms Mitchell wrote.
Ms Golec responded on Twitter that her “intent was to protect our vote, not to encourage you to steal pens.”
“Ironically, fearful of breaking the law, Maricopa County is really scared that people will steal pens,” she said. “What if they run out and don’t have enough votes to go into the adjudication cycle?”
Ballpoint and gel pens leave more residue that can clog the machine, According to election officials.
Ahead of Election Day, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Rich urged voters to “please” use the pens provided to prevent any problems with the voting machines.
Despite receiving the letter, Ms Gorek repeatedly told supporters on Tuesday to stop using the felt-tip pens provided and claimed ballot-processing machines couldn’t read the ink, triggering automatic ballot papers designed to “cheat” and “crack” the results ruling.
Similar false claims revolved around what became “sign gateElection officials are advised to provide voters with Sharpie pens to deliberately interfere in Trump’s election.
Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, users of Truth Social and other social media platforms had told voters to “bring your own pen” and ditch the Pentel pens provided.
Last month, far-right extremist state Senator Wendy Rogers said election officials were deliberately “causing mistrust in the pen.” On Tuesday, she called the “pen and marker issue” “misleading” so “we don’t catch mules and computer fraud”.