Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem believes that election ballots should be just as secure as U.S. currency to ensure confidence in the system and prevent fraud.
To that end, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State is spearheading the Arizona Ballot Integrity Project to replace the state’s traditional election paper ballots with virtually fool-proof ballots complete with watermarks, ballot identification numbers, QR codes, and embedded holograms.
Finchem said there is no ballot integrity initiative anywhere else in the country at the moment, but in his travels, he’s encountered a high level of bipartisan interest.
“Ballot integrity, a critical part of the election process, relies on fraud countermeasures to keep the fakes out of the system,” Finchem said in a 3-minute video announcing the project.
“Election integrity—more broadly—relies on full-spectrum transparency. We can have full-spectrum transparency by making every ballot image a public record, available to everyone, all the time. Putting sunshine on something is a great disinfectant, and there is no reason not to do this.”
Finchem said the U.S. Treasury relies on currency-grade fraud countermeasures to prevent counterfeiting. He said Arizona’s election ballots should be no less secure and hard to fake or duplicate.
The object is to create a “defined universe of ballots,” as opposed to “the wild west” of mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election, Finchem told The Epoch Times.
While the concept of ballot countermeasures is Finchem’s idea, the execution will be done by Authentix authentication solutions, the Texas-based firm Finchem contacted to design and implement a secure ballot system for Arizona.
“I think the more important issue is that we will be able to produce ballots that have the countermeasures and prevent bleed-through” of ballots, Finchem said.
At present, there are about 4 million voters in Arizona, according to the office of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Roughly half of the ballots cast in the 2020 election were in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county. The ballots are currently undergoing a third recount as part of a state Senate-led forensic audit of the November election.
Under the secure ballot system, “we’ll come close to making the forensic audit obsolete,” Finchem said.
While each ballot costs about a nickel to produce, the ballots by Authentix would cost 25 cents each to produce with a slew of safeguards, Finchem said.
The Arizona legislature has set aside $12 million in a trust in this year’s budget to print 60 million secure ballots for use in future elections.
“We are reviewing the legislation and working with our ballot manufacturing, printing, and tabulation vendors to determine feasibility, cost, risks, and benefits. After this analysis is complete, we will make a decision on if we will implement any of the counterfeit security measures,” Megan Gilbertson, Communications Director for the Maricopa Cointy Elections Department, told The Epoch Times.
Finchem said the ballots would be printed using a secure microprint on a special paper stock to prevent ink bleed-through. Each secure ballot would contain its own unique voter number and bar code, a holographic watermark visible under ultraviolet light, and a translucent ballot hologram built into the watermark, he said.
Any ballot not having the watermark would be set aside as potentially fraudulent. The ballot number would also enable voters to track their ballots online anonymously to make sure their votes count and are properly in the system.
“Do I think it’s foolproof? To a certain extent we will interface with several different ways that fraud could be prohibited,” Finchem said. “This sets up what looks like a fully transparent ballot system. It certainly would make it much more difficult to inject false ballots into the system.”
Finchem said in the final analysis he prefers the slow but tried-and-true hand tabulation of ballots rather than the current electronic ballot counting system, which carries a number of security risks.
“It’s a huge safeguard—much more safe than what we have today,” Finchem said of the secure ballots.
Cochise County Recorder David Stevens said he was “incredibly impressed” by the Authentix secure ballot system during a recent company presentation with Arizona lawmakers.
“It exceeded my imagination of what could be done to fix this. There is literally no security in the [current] ballot,” Stevens told The Epoch Times. “There’s more security in the ballot envelope.”
Stevens said the Authentix system, with its eight different countermeasures, can be implemented in any number of ways.
“I’m in favor of the countermeasures,” he said. “This is just one more level of integrity and security you can put in [ballots]. Roughly half of Arizona is upset about the 2020 election.”
Finchem said he’s hopeful the new secure ballot system will be in place in time for the 2022 primary election.
Correction: The types of proposed ballot security measures have been corrected. The Epoch Times regrets the error.