Are we vulnerable to an attack at the ballot box?
Heightened security awareness is a defining aspect of this election season — whether one is referring to the rhetoric of the campaign or about possible threats toour election process.
Chatter about a possible election season attack by Al Qaeda is clearly making Homeland security officials extra-vigilant — reportedly anti-terror command centers at the FBI and Homeland Security will be running around the clock on election day.
Protecting an election is an impossibly complicated prospect. There are hundreds of thousands of polling places spread throughout the nation — and an attack at any one of them could potentially disrupt the process and/or throw the election results into question. On the other hand, stationing armed guards at each location would certainly send the wrong message. Is it possible that the prospect of danger associated with the election would discourage citizens from casting their votes? Would the U.S. electorate be as brave as the people of, say, Afghanistan, who faced down danger on their way to the ballot box? One would hope so.
Could computerized voting machines be at risk? Not according to Rick Van Luvender, president of InfoSec Academy, who says: “Sound information security policies will mitigate the risks associated with external threats.”
He adds: “In addition, vendors and election boards must also ensure that employees and poll workers receive security awareness training to ensure they understand and adhere to the policies that are an integral step toward providing a secure election.”
Our election in 2004 will have a long-range impact on the future of the country. Which candidate wins will determine part of that impact. Another part will be realized if we all show that our political system — as exemplified by the ballot box — is indeed intact and functioning, even in the age of terrorism.
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