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Pasco Elections Official Urges Caution On Social Media

Hand dropping ballot into a box.
Drew McKissick
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley is warning people to be cautious on social media during election time.

Threats to Florida elections are often so inconspicuous that people don’t notice them.

They exist behind the glowing light of your cellphone on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Pasco County’s Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley sent out a letter this week urging voters to be aware of possible cybersecurity threats ahead of the 2020 election.

Misinformation can spread quickly on social media. Once false information gets reposted a certain number of times, it’s difficult to erase it from people’s minds.

During the 2016 election, 72,000 people RSVP’d to a political rally on Facebook that didn’t even exist. The event was created by a foreign government to get information on people’s political preferences.

This is why Corley emphasized the importance of being responsible in what you share on social media.

"There were an untold number of Americans who unknowingly helped perpetuate some of the half-truths and outright lies by retweeting something or sharing something they saw on social media. We just want to have the policy if you see something, say something,” he said.

Corley said his office is working vigilantly to prevent outside interference in Pasco County elections. He said the county has been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security in order to learn the best practices.

Never respond to text messages that come from an unknown source if they’re asking questions about your ballot. In 2016, Pasco County residents were getting text messages from suspicious numbers asking them if they turned in their ballot.

Corley said Pasco residents no longer have to wonder where their ballot is thanks to a new feature called ballot scout.

“In Pasco County we have a new program called ballot scout,” Corley said. “You can track your vote-by-mail ballot like an Amazon package. You can also opt into get a text or email when we've received your ballot back, it's auto generated.”

Corley said people are always advised to check if a social media post or text message is legitimate with their local Supervisor of Elections office.

Carrie Pinkard is the Stephen Noble news intern for the summer 2019 semester. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in English, before heading to USF St Pete to pursue a master’s in journalism.
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