Counterfeiters Beware! Arizona Rep. Turns State Ballot Integrity Project into National Opportunity

Mark Finchem, the State Representative from Arizona who has also received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump in a bid to become that State’s Secretary of State in 2022, has effectively taken his Arizona Ballot Integrity Project (BIP) national as of this past Wednesday when he and approximately 30 others from around the country gathered at the suburban Dallas offices of international authentication leader, Authentix, to create a process for introducing a highly counterfeit-resistant paper ballot. 

Attendees were a mix of technology experts, politicians, election officials, and election integrity activists.  States represented included Arizona, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Hampshire among others.  The first portion of the meeting had experts from Authentix making various presentations to the group detailing the technology involved in the process.  The second half was a working white board session where the group collaborated in designing the rollout process.

The inspiration:

When asked how he got the idea to initially launch the BIP, Finchem said, “Back between September and November of last year there were rumors circulating that somehow ballots had been secretly watermarked. Those rumors were not true. But it got me to thinking, what if they could be?”

That question ultimately led to him being introduced to the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Authentix, Kent Mansfield. “At first I didn’t know what to think when I got the request,” said Mansfield. “We had never done a project exactly like this, but I also knew Mark was serious about making this happen. Without any spec’s, this was an open opportunity for our people to create. I worked with our teams to design a concept and once we had it, it took about thirty days to produce a prototype.”

That prototype found its way to Finchem in March of 2020 along with a UV light. The question-asking Congressman then asked Mansfield if he would come to Arizona to meet with House members as they were in session. Mansfield made the trip two weeks later and the response was impressive. “We went down into the House basement and turned on the UV light,” Finchem states. “Everyone was impressed including the on-site representative from the Arizona Association of Counties …and she’s hard to impress.”

The ballot & its architects:

As currently designed, the proposed paper ballot contains multiple authentication and tracking features making it almost impossible to replicate by anyone interested in election tampering through the creation of phony ballots.  “If someone has enough time and enough money, and enough determination, anything can eventually be counterfeited in theory,” Mansfield said.  “The key is to create such complex barriers that it becomes unfeasible to even try.  Nefarious people tend to be in a bit of a hurry.  Making the job simply too big deters them.”

Authentix was started in 2002 and has offices located worldwide.  Their authentication projects ranged from protecting currencies, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and tax stamps.  They even provide fuel authentication to help prevent adulteration, tax evasion, and franchise abuse.  “Authentication is what we do, and it is all we do,” says Mansfield.  Authentix was born from a merger between U.S.-based Isotag and U.K.-based Biocode.  

When asked about the potential problem of steering people toward paper ballots in a nation obsessed with the bells and whistles of digital security, Mansfield says,” We get that question all the time.  It is often the case that a newer technology comes along that can be deployed that simply wasn’t available at the time that the last technology was deployed.  This is brand new technology.  It is a way to serialize documents.  It can let people know that the document that left is the actual document that came back.”  This lets people track and interact with their ballot and the government can know it is a legitimate ballot.”

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