Maricopa County Official Known for ‘Sharpiegate’ Donated to Democrat Mark Kelly’s U.S. Senate Campaign


Kelly Dixon, assistant director for the Maricopa County Election Department’s recruitment and training division, who admitted she knew there were “issues and concerns” with voters marking ballots with Sharpies during the 2020 general election, donated to then-candidate Mark Kelly in his bid for the U.S. Senate. She earmarked a $100 contribution to him through a donation she gave to the Democratic campaign fundraising organization ActBlue, Headline USA reported on Monday.

“Sharpiegate” made big headlines in the early days after the November 2020 election, due to concerns about the popular felt tip pens spoiling ballots. Maricopa County voters complained about poll workers handing them Sharpies to mark their ballots on election day instead of ballpoint pens.

Dixon knew ahead of election day that using Sharpies to mark a ballot was an issue. In an email dated October 22 obtained by The Gatewaypundit, she wrote, “Starting tomorrow, 10/23, and through 11/2, we are asking the Clerks hand voters BALLPOINT PENS rather than markers.” However, she then said “We NEED to use markers on Election Day.”

She did not explain why. Republicans voted on election day in huge numbers last year, driven by fears of voter fraud. A Gallup survey found that 62% of Democrats said they would vote early last fall, compared to only 28% of Republicans.

Instructions on Maricopa County ballots clearly state, “Do NOT use a sharpie type pen as it will bleed through.” An official election video from Pima County instructs voters not to use sharpies.

A voter filed a lawsuit over her Sharpie-marked ballot being rejected, but it was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. After the outcry, the message from Maricopa County appeared to change on election day. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich began an investigation on election day, and in response, Maricopa County Elections stated, “Sharpie markers are recommended by the manufacturer of Maricopa County’s vote tabulation machines as the preferred way to mark ballots for use in those machines. Ink from ballpoint pens can cause smudges in the machines and foul them, while Sharpie markers do not.” MCED also tweeted on election day that they are using sharpies in polling places.

Last week, at the Arizona Senate hearing revealing preliminary results from the Maricopa County ballot audit, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan provided an example of a ballot marked with a Sharpie that would have been counted as an overvote. An overvote occurs when it appears that more votes were cast than allowed, resulting in a spoiled ballot where none of the votes for that race are counted.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has been very critical of the audit and who is now running for governor, dismissed the problems with sharpies. She said in November after the controversy surfaced that she was “100% certain” the use of a Sharpie would not prevent a vote from being counted.

Dixon deleted her Twitter account last November after her email became public. Some quick users screenshotted some of her tweets before it was taken down. She liked several tweets by the Squad and tweeted an article complaining about how racist Thomas Jefferson was.

It isn’t the first time that pens used on ballots ended up in a moniker during the election. “Blue Pen Jen” earned her nickname by sneaking into the Arizona audit pretending to be a worker, while working for The Arizona Republic and stirring up concerns that audit workers might mark ballots with blue pens (it turned out they weren’t using blue pens around real ballots).

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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One Thought to “Maricopa County Official Known for ‘Sharpiegate’ Donated to Democrat Mark Kelly’s U.S. Senate Campaign”

  1. Larry

    Hey Kelly, I think orange will look good on you this fall!!