By Corinne Murdock |
On Tuesday, Maricopa County sent a cease-and-desist letter to board of supervisors candidate Gail Golec for advising voters to steal election pens. The county gives voters a specific type of felt-tipped pen to fill out their in-person ballots.
Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Joseph La Rue requested that Golec issue a public retraction urging voters not to steal the pens.
“As you well know, theft of any sort is unlawful; moreover encouraging theft of the fast-drying ink pens specifically recommended for election day voting is a deliberate attempt to interfere with election administration and will have the harmful effect of delaying the vote tabulation of election day ballots, as the wet ink harms the vote center tabulation machines,” wrote La Rue.
La Rue’s letter came hours after Golec persuaded voters to steal pens via Telegram, an encrypted messaging service increasingly relied on by right-wing individuals as an alternative social media platform.
“I just had someone give me an idea. When voting take the pentel pen with you and leave a blue pen behind. Eventually they will run out,” wrote Golec.
Later on Twitter, Golec alluded to her advice to steal pens with the hashtag, “#LeaveNoPentelBehind.”
Golec dismissed the county’s warning as a distraction from election integrity. She doubled down with a hashtag associated with her call to action, #UseBlueInk. As of press time, the Telegram post wasn’t removed.
Several hours before Golec shared Maricopa County’s cease-and-desist letter, AZ Free News inquired with the county whether voters were stealing poll pens and/or replacing them with their preferred pens. The county didn’t respond by press time.
The county’s elections department announced Tuesday morning that they resolved reports of stolen pens, as well as other minor technology issues.
Golec’s advice was based on her claims that the tabulation machines wouldn’t be able to read ballots marked with the county’s felt-tipped pens. Golec also claimed that the felt-tipped pens were part of a bigger conspiracy to rig elections.
The candidate advised voters repeatedly to use a blue ink pen of their choice, not the felt-tipped pens provided by the county.
Golec made headlines last month for her claim that former President Donald Trump endorsed her campaign. The Arizona Daily Independent reported that sources close to Trump denied that the former president ever issued a formal endorsement for Golec.
The county supervisor candidate substantiated her claim of Trump’s endorsement with a brief exchange the two shared: Golec interrupted part of Trump’s speech addressing Maricopa County at Mar-A-Lago, telling the former president that she needed him to get her into office. Trump replied that he endorsed her, but didn’t mention her by name and never issued a formal endorsement later.
During the Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 election, Golec communicated frequently with Ken Bennett, the audit liaison, to share concerns that Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists were attempting to undermine the audit. Those exchanges came to light through the release of communications data related to the audit.
As proof of her claims that BLM was near the site of the audit, Golec sent Bennett a picture of a bus with “Black Lives Matter” wrapping. The bus belonged to the Toronto Raptors, an NBA team, not BLM.
Golic submitted numerous questions and requests about election security to Bennett as well as Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott).
Golic characterized Fann in a recent campaign ad as a politician willing to undermine election integrity to serve her own interests. She cited the timeline of the State Senate’s settlement concerning its subpoena of Maricopa County in September, followed by the state’s contracting of Fann’s family company and 10 other developers in October to widen the I-17. Golic claimed that the settlement meant the county didn’t have to supply its routers.
However, the county did agree to hand over its routers. Fann summarized that the settlement gave the senate everything they wanted and had the county drop its $2.8 million lawsuit.
Fann responded that Golic lied to the public and owed her and the voters an apology.
Maricopa County announced earlier this year that it would cease using Sharpies at the polls, instead relying on Pentel felt-tipped pens. Election officials offered multiple reasons for the change, with some noting public distrust of Sharpies following the 2020 election and the ensuing “Sharpiegate” controversy.
The county’s chief reason for the switch concerned faster ink drying times for improved ballot processing by the tabulation machines.