Here's what kind of pen to use to fill out your Maricopa County election ballot

By Scott Daniels, Vaughan Jones
Published: Monday, July 18, 2022 - 11:35am
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 12:31pm

2022 arizona midterm ballot
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
An early ballot for the 2022 Arizona midterm election.

When filling out your mail-in ballot, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer asks you to make sure you use the correct writing instrument.

“Please don’t use pencil. Please use a blue or black pen — any type of pen, blue or black — if you’re mailing it back," Richer said before the 2022 primary. "If you vote in person, we’ll give you a special writing utensil that works well with our tabulation equipment.”

Megan Gilbertson, Maricopa County Elections Department communications director, told KJZZ News in July that ballpoint pens shouldn't be used when voters cast ballots in person.

"On Election Day, we are still recommending voters use the ballot-marking pen we provide at the vote center. We need Election Day voters to use fast-drying ink," Gilbertson said. "Sharpies are good, but writing instruments like ballpoint pens are not."

Gilbertson said ballpoint pens can cause ink blotches that get onto the tabulator, which then has to be cleaned before it can be used again. She also said tabulators can't read red ink, highlighters or other light colored ink.

Richer recommended contacting your county recorder for a replacement ballot in the event the ballot is damaged or has mistakes on it.

He also says voters who received mail-in ballots should return them as soon as possible.

Richer says there is a multi-step process to verify each ballot, and the more ballots are sent in early, the sooner the county can provide verified election results.

Maricopa County voters can check the status of their ballots at

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