TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For some Americans, the hot topic this election year is not the candidates nor any political issue. Instead, they are focused on election safety and security.
“I’m okay with what’s happening,” said Patty Pickering, a voter from Tampa. “So I’m not worried about any tampering. I’m not worried that’s happening.”
8 On Your Side turned the the FBI Field Office in Tampa with less than three weeks to go until Americans hit the polls.
“One of the main areas of concern we have is misinformation or disinformation that our foreign adversaries are trying to put out,” Andrew Sekela, an FBI special agent, said Wednesday.
He explained that the Russians and others are attempting to wreak havoc on the election process. Sekela said they are spreading incorrect or inaccurate information to confuse and create discord.
The key: verify.
“The first thing is check your facts,” he said. “In other words if you see things on one site or hear it on one news station, before you believe it, check it out. See if you can find corroboration for that information on another site.”
As far as ballot tampering, Sekela said pay attention to anything suspicious.
“What I would encourage people to do, if you see ballots that are somewhere, report that to the FBI. Let us know about that. We need people to be our eyes and ears.”
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer explained that outsiders cannot get into his office’s systems.
“On election night, when we get the information we actually have to get it off there with a thumb drive and take it to another system,” he said.
Voter machines are not connected to the internet, so Latimer said it is impossible for someone to tamper with the results.
Back at the FBI, agents are confident of a safe and secure process.
“To change the election, to influence the election, you would really need such a large scale operation and it’s really impractical or impossible to cause that sort of influence on a massive scale,” Sekela said.
The FBI has more information on voter safety at its website.
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