I have some technology-related advice to prepare for Election Day: If you need to go online to look up directions to your polling place, or research the candidates or public questions on your ballot, do it now and print it out before November 8.
Why? Some cyber security experts are concerned that the October 21 cyber attacks that impaired large segments of the internet were a dress rehearsal for more cyber attacks planned to sow chaos on Election Day.
Since nearly all of the actual voting process takes place in a secure, offline environment, it’s not the manipulation of official election results that is of concern. It's highly unlikely that a hacker could change your vote from one party to another.
However, imagine the chaos that would ensue if millions of voters assumed they find their polling place by searching online – and then woke up on Election Day to discover the internet has once again been impaired by "denial of service" attacks. And if some segments of the population couldn’t make it to the polls, that alone could skew the election results.
Others are less concerned about an Election Day attack on online mapping services, pointing out that hackers would have to take out all three of the major mapping services – Google, Apple and Yahoo – an unlikely feat. However, they also point out that news websites and social media accounts are easier targets, and disrupting them could skew the news that voters receive on Election Day, causing confusion and lack of faith in the process.
Canon Jacobs recently wrote a blog post about the importance of voting as an act of Christian stewardship. I’d like to add to his message that in addition to intending to vote, it is also responsible to prepare to vote.
If you aren’t sure where your polling place is, you can look it up right now at nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information.html, or at vote411.org/enter-your-address (run by the League of Women Voters). If you still need to research any candidates or public questions, do that too.
God willing, the voting process will proceed smoothly. But in this chaotic election season, when things we once never dreamed would happen have happened, it’s a good idea to be prepared in advance. So have the address of your polling place and directions to it on a piece of paper. Know your down-ballot candidates and issues, and research them ahead of time.
Good luck, and get ready to vote!