As an Arizona county prepares to spend up to $1 million in state money to test anti-counterfeit features on ballots, it appears the project was tailored for one company in particular that has pushed the idea with the help of political allies in the state for more than two years.
The idea of adding unique features such as watermarks to ballots is gaining steam as a way to both protect against fraudulent ballots and improve voter confidence. But because the Cochise County pilot was crafted so specifically to describe Texas-based Authentix’s products, election technology experts say it unnecessarily limits the competition for the work while testing unnecessary and expensive products that might even make ballots unreadable to vote-counting machines.
Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of voter advocacy group All Voting is Local, called the venture a “boondoggle.”
“It’s designed specifically to benefit this particular company, and it’s solving a problem that does not exist,” Gulotta said. While Arizona’s failed GOP candidates and leaders have claimed thousands of fake ballots were inserted into Arizona’s 2020 and 2022 elections, courts have found no evidence of any.
But Cochise County supervisors are set to vote on Tuesday to contract with Authentix, as well as one other company that applied independently. The companies say they will test ballots with features such as watermarks, invisible ink and text, and unique dyes prior to the 2024 presidential election.