If Arizona needs high-tech ballots, will they even work?

It just happened, from the front lines of the Republican Party’s epic battle against imaginary voter fraud.

The House Appropriations Committee on Monday approved a plan to use “anti-fraud” special ballots in all future state and federal elections.

Basically, Arizona would have the Buzz Lightyear of ballots, complete with holograms and invisible inks and stealth numbers and more than a dozen other secret “countermeasures” designed to combat fraud.

You know, what the Republicans and their ninja listeners have been unable to find despite 16 months of research and a huge embarrassing UV-lit 5G photographic exercise.

Who told Finchem about Authentix? He won’t say

It’s actually not a bad idea to require more security features in ballots, if only so Kari Lake and Wendy Rogers can sleep at night.

But this bill is drafted to benefit a specific company, based in Texas.

And he’s being promoted by Rep. Mark Finchem, a guy who hopes that if he lies about stealing the Arizona election often enough, voters will install him as Secretary of State to oversee future elections.

We don’t know how Finchem has partnered with Authentixan Addison, Texas-based company that has never worked on elections before.

He told the Washington Post that he was put in touch with the company after the 2020 election by a friend from Florida who knew about the company’s work adding security markers to products.

“It was someone who knew someone,” Finchem told the Post, while declining to name those people.

He is pushing for these security measures

It’s also unclear if Finchem gets anything for its promotion of a bill that would represent a jackpot for Authentix.

Company executives are not claiming to have donated to Finchem’s campaign last year and reports on 2022 campaign funding will not be released for months. But Finchem seems to have a perpetually outstretched hand, fundraisingand there is no way of knowing who is lining their pockets.

In addition to raising funds for his SOS campaign, he is currently trying to raise $750,000 for a legal defense fund stemming from his recent summons appear before the congressional committee on January 6.

There is also a Debt Fund for Free and Fair Elections and a Guardian Defense Fund for people who want to send money to Finchem.

The only thing that is clear is that Finchem has been doing the rounds, both in and out of state, over the past year promoting a product that only Authentix can provide. Since then, many Republicans have joined him in supporting the plan.

The bill is tailor-made for their ballots

And that’s how an all-out strike amendment comes to House Bill 2726requiring ballots to be printed on paper containing 17 very specific anti-fraud characteristics and to be of a certain size and weight (80 grams per square meter).

The paper should contain watermarks, holograms and “thermochromic, tri-thermochromic, photochromic or optically variable inks”.

It should have stealth numbers printed in ultraviolet, infrared or tag inks and “bicolor rainbow printed invisible ultraviolet numismatic designs with a fine line security embossed design that exactly follows the design of the primary images and with a minimum line weight of 0.0424 millimeters. ”

And it should have a “molecular level forensic safety feature embedded in the infrared labeled ink” which “must be authenticated by laboratory analysis using gas chromatography mass spectrometry and concentration in the ink associated cannot be greater than one part per million.”

In other words, the ballot should be provided by Authentix and the equipment needed to authenticate the ballots should be provided by, you guessed it, Authentix.

5 times the price? And do they even work?

No word yet on what it would cost counties to print the ballots let alone buy the equipment needed to scan and authenticate the ballots.

Finchem estimated it would cost 25 cents to produce a ballot, up from the current nickel.

The state is offering a one-time gift of $6 million to offset the cost.

Count the counties among those opposing the bill.

Jen Marson, lobbyist for the Association of Arizona Counties, says there’s no guarantee counties’ tabulation equipment will read ballots, which could force them to buy new equipment. She also noted that a black light provided by Authentix did not actually help authenticate a sample ballot containing the 17 security features required by the bill.

She also warned of the consequences of tailoring a bill so that it only suits one company.

“When you have sole-source (vendors), they can charge you whatever they want,” she told the committee. “It’s just the reality.”

Only one Republican thinks it’s fishy

Among Republicans, Representative Michelle Mesa was the only one to oppose the bill. It makes sense, she said, to print the ballots on something other than plain card stock. But she called the bill, so clearly designed to benefit a business, “the worst example of a vendor bill I have ever seen.”

Which did not bother his fellow Republicans.

The appropriations committee passed it on an 8-5 vote with no debate on whether it’s a good idea to draft a bill specifically to benefit a corporation.

Or if 17 – count them, 17 – the security features are sufficient to fight off nefarious foreign actors trying to slip bamboo ballots on us. Or what happens to a ballot if the county can only authenticate 16 of the 17 required security features. Or if we should add lasers or maybe even a flux capacitor to every ballot.

You know, to make it easier for the inevitable listeners to go back in time in their hunt for this hitherto elusive voter fraud?

Contact Roberts at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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Maria D. Ervin