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In the runup to the 2022 elections — the primary will be held June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8 — the Indy will offer some facts about elections to dispel rumors and misconceptions that travel the internet and other informational channels.

Misconception: If you use a Sharpie to fill out your ballot, your vote won’t count.

This is false. A Sharpie is OK — at least in the state of Colorado.

“We prefer you use blue or black ink,” says El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. “We don’t want you to use pink and green and purple — because the machine best picks up blue and black. But you can use a Sharpie marker.”

During the pre-election equipment testing stage, ballots are marked with a range of different writing utensils to identify anything that could potentially cause an issue, notes Broerman.

Because the ballot paper is thick, risk of Sharpie bleed-through is low. And thanks to the ballot layout, even if there’s bleed-through, it shouldn’t interfere with choices on the other side (since the ovals don’t overlap). But while Sharpies aren’t necessarily an issue, the color Sharpie you use might be.

“The primary color that drops out is red ink,” says Karl Nordstorm, the clerk and recorder information systems supervisor. “So any variation of red or pink or orange — that’s usually what we will [tell] our election judges, that if you see it in any part of the process, that should be something that is flagged. And then, we make sure that we properly address that situation.”

Then there are variations of colors that have blue or black in them. “If a lighter mark comes through, the system is also set up with a threshold to say, ‘If between 5 percent to 25 percent of that oval is filled out, I want human eyes to take a look at that mark,’” says Nordstorm. This is then “outputted to a team of bipartisan election judges that look and make a determination,” says Broerman.

So if Sharpie’s a non-issue, what are some of the most common reasons why people’s ballots aren’t counted?

“Failing to sign the back of their ballot envelope,” says Broerman. “If you don’t sign the back of your ballot envelope, it can’t go any further. That, and the signature not matching what we have on file.”

However, there is a procedure in place to rectify these issues. “You get a signature discrepancy letter or missing signature letter,” says Director of Elections Angie Leath. “We have to send them out within 48 hours of us receiving it. And then, you have up until eight days after the election to cure that discrepancy.” This can be corrected via email, fax, in person or text message.

Indy readers are invited to submit their own questions about election procedures to news@csindy.com with “mythbusters” in the subject line. 

Anna Fiorino is a graduate from San Diego State University. She is a journalist with (more than three but less than twenty) years of experience. In her free time, she edits novels.