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FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 12, 2020

FBI and cybersecurity agency advise election patience and avoiding untrustworthy claims

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What does someone in your state say about the presidential campaign?
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Find coverage of a local candidate or ballot issue and list three things you learn.
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Now share a fact from any other politics article and tell why you pick it.

This unusual election season has a new twist: Two federal agencies advise Americans that presidential vote-counting will take longer than usual, creating an opportunity for information mischief. Be patient and beware of false or misleading claims online, say the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. In a recent announcement, they "urge the American public to critically evaluate the sources of the information they consume and to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials" because foreign meddlers "and cybercriminals" may spread phony statements. (See video below.)

The new caution notes that "the increased use of mail-in ballots due to Covid-19 protocols could leave officials with incomplete results on Election Night." Despite that widely held expectation, President Trump's press secretary says his administration wants to see a presidential winner projected the night of Nov. 3 after polls close. "That's how the system is supposed to work," Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News last month. "And that's ultimately what we're looking for and what we're hoping for," In the TV interview, she also criticized Democrats for expanding access to mail-in voting.

Early voting also is in the news as a few states make it less convenient to drop off mailed ballots in person, a step some voters take to sidestep possible postal delays. In Iowa, the Republican secretary of state tells county clerks they can't set up drop boxes to accept early ballots, a practice allowed previously. A federal judge in Texas last Friday blocked an order by the Republican governor's that limited ballot drop boxes to one per county. That would inconvenience "older and disabled voters living in Texas' largest and most populous counties," the ruling says. Democrats accused Gov. Greg Abbott of trying to suppress the vote. In another case, a federal judge in Pennsylvania last Saturday rejected a suit from Trump's campaign that sought to bar use of mail ballot drop boxes across the state. The judge, appointed by Trump in 2018, said no evidence was presented to support the campaign's claim that "fraudulent or otherwise ineligible ballots will be cast and counted."

Warning says: "Verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about problems in voting or election results, and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media." – FBI and cybersecurity agency

White House says: "What we want Election Night to look like is a system that's fair, a situation where we know who the president of the United States is on Election Night." – Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary

Heavy early voting: More than 8.8 million ballots were received by last Saturday in 30 states that release counts – far ahead of the 2016 pace, says the United States Elections Project.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2020
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