“I encourage Iowans to not believe everything they read on social media,” Pate says. “Sometimes people are just giving out bad information. Others are trying to confuse voters and create doubt in our elections.”
Pate says the best source of credible information about where and how to vote is your county auditor or his office. There is no way for cyber criminals to “hack” the vote in Iowa, Pate says, because Iowans use paper ballots to cast their votes and he’s asking people to ignore posts on social media which suggest otherwise.
“If they can create the doubt in your nind and feed that to the point to where people just say: ‘That’s not my senator,’ or ‘That’s not my governor,’ or whatever the elected post is, then we lose,” Pate says. “And I’m asking Iowans to not let that happen.”
Special agent Eugene Kowell heads the FBI office in Omaha that oversees Iowa and Nebraska and he also has a warning about social media.
“We face a very real threat from foreign adversaries who attempt to undermine our elections and our electoral process,” he says. “And our adversaries, they see our elections as an opportunity to challenge our confidence in our institutions, in our values; to sow divisions in our society; to weaken our alliances and promote their own agendas.”
A group of state and federal officials is convening today, just in case there are attempts to disrupt today’s voting. Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says every Iowan should have the opportunity to freely, safely and securely cast their vote.
“The state emergency operations center is equipped to facility actions required to coordinate and respond to an incident, emergency or disaster that could threaten the integrity of our election system,” Flinn says. “…We stand ready, with our partners, to act if necessary.”
Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens says his agency’s intelligence center will be a statewide hub for monitoring physical and digital threats.
“Our duty and focus for the election is to educate Iowans about misinformation and disinformation as it may appear,” Bayens says, “and to address any physical threats on Election Day or in the days that follow.”
The cyber security officer in the Secretary of State’s office says all of Iowa’s 99 counties have plans to respond to a variety of possible threats and local officials have undergone emergency training.