What Officials Across DC Area Say About Election Security - NBC4 Washington

What Officials Across DC Area Say About Election Security

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Amid fears about voter intimidation and the security of election results, boards of election and police departments in the D.C. area are assuring voters that their rights and their votes will be protected on Election Day. 

    "We always have a plan in place to be able to respond to any threat or local issue," Fairfax County Police Department spokeswoman Tawny Wright said. 

    Federal officials say they will pay extra attention to Virginia to respond to any reports of voter fraud or intimidation. Federal prosecutors and FBI agents will be on duty across the state, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that its civil rights division will deploy personnel to Fairfax and Prince William counties to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws.

    "The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

    Information was not released immediately on why the DOJ selected the two Virginia counties.

    Here's how officials across the region are preparing for Election Day:

    D.C.
    Police will pay "special attention" to polling places, Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Margarita Mikhaylova wrote in an email. She declined to share specifics, for security reasons.

    The D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) has contingency plans in effect for Election Day, spokeswoman Tamara Robinson said in an email. The BOE is monitoring social media for misinformation, she said. 

    The D.C. Voter's Guide encourages voters with questions and concerns to contact their precinct captain.

    Any voters who feel threatened when voting in D.C. are encouraged to call 911.

    MARYLAND
    The state of Maryland also is assuring voters that the polls will be safe and every ballot will be counted. 

    The State Board of Elections has responded to many voter concerns on the Rumor Control page of its website.

    The election systems are secure and are subject to security testing, the elections board said. The voting system is paper-based, which means the voting equipment is never connected to the internet, the website says. Furthermore, equipment will be tested before Election Day.

    Voters with questions are advised to contact the Maryland State Board of Elections.

    VIRGINIA
    The commonwealth of Virginia also said votes and voters will be safe. The Department of Elections will remain "extremely vigilant for any potential threats," elections commissioner Edgardo Cortés said in a statement issued Friday. 

    "Virginia voters should be confident that they will be able to safely cast a ballot on Tuesday and that their votes will be accurately counted," he said. 

    The Department of Elections has extended its customer service hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you have questions, call 1-800-552-9745 and select option 1.

    Specific Counties in the D.C. Area:

    Arlington County
    Police and election officials in Arlington County, Virginia, also say the election results and voters will be safe.

    Election scanners never touch a computer network, elections director and registrar Linda Lindberg said.

    "We have paper ballots as backup, too, should [election officials] find anything unusual with the results," she said.

    The results will be double-checked Wednesday morning by the election board, further ensuring that they are correct.

    "We haven't had any issues of Election Day fraud in Arlington," Lindberg said.

    Arlington County police will be on high alert, as is standard practice, Capt. Bruce Benson said in an email. Officers will balance ensuring safety for voters with respecting voter privacy, he said.

    "We have response plans, which include additional officers on duty, dedicated to responding to incidents at any polling place," Benson said.

    Police urged voters to continue to follow the "see something, say something" guideline, and to call 911 in the event of a disturbance.

    Fairfax County
    Fairfax County, Virginia, also is ready to respond to any situation, police spokeswoman Wright said.

    "We want everyone in the county to feel safe and be able to vote," she said.

    Police urged voters to be aware of their surroundings and report any issues.

    "We hope there won't be any incidents but we are prepared to respond quickly," Wright said, noting that the department will have additional units on standby.

    Fairfax County Police are coordinating with federal officers to monitor any potential threats. 

    Loudoun County
    This election will be as safe in Loudoun County, Virginia, as prior elections have been, Office of Elections spokesman Glen Barbour said.

    "Loudoun County operates polling sites that ensure free and open access to voters," he said in an email. "We anticipate that this year is no different."

    Poll workers have been trained to handle a wide range of potential incidents. Barbour said the Office of Elections believes everything will go smoothly.

    "Ensuring the integrity of the voting process is always our top priority," he said.

    The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office will not have officers stationed at polling sites, spokeswoman Alexandra Kowalski said.

    "If someone feels threatened, they are encouraged to call and police will assess the situation," she said.

    Montgomery County
    Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, are working to dispel myths about the voting process and threats to voting results.

    "All Montgomery County voters are encouraged to visit our website at 777vote.org to check for updated information," Board of Elections spokeswoman Marjorie Roher said in an email.

    Voters with questions are encouraged to speak to election judges at their polling places before casting a ballot.

    Montgomery County Police will visit polling sites as necessary, Capt. Paul Starks said.

    Prince George's County
    Election officials and police in Prince George's County, Maryland, are expecting business as usual.

    Poll workers will follow previous protocols and are trained to call police if disturbances occur, Election Director Alisha Alexander said.

    "From my perspective, Prince George's will vote as they always have, in a fair, ethical and orderly manner," she said.

    Any voter who thinks something is wrong should tell a poll worker immediately, Alexander said.

    Police will respond to polling places as needed, Cpl. Harry Bond said. He said voters should feel safe heading to the polls Tuesday.

    "We have no reason to believe there will be trouble at the polls," Bond said. 

    Prince William County
    Officials in Prince William County, Virginia, also say they are expecting secure polling sites and election results.

    Election officials have been told to pay attention and contact appropriate officials, such as police, if they see anything unusual, county election spokesman Winston Forrest said.

    "We are confident it will be a safe process," he said. "We are confident there won't be a problem on Election Day."

    The election results will not be transmitted online and never touch the internet, Forrest said.

    The police department also is expecting calm.

    "We don't normally have too many issues at our polling centers," Sgt. John Perok said. "I don't foresee anything happening."

    The department has additional resources available in the event of a disturbance, Perok said.

    Anyone who feels intimidated is asked to call police.

    If You See Anything Unusual:
    The Department of Justice advises anyone who sees anything out of the ordinary at a polling place to immediately report the issue to polling officials.

    "Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. They should also be reported to the [Justice Department] after local authorities have been contacted," the department said in a statement.