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With early voting underway in New Jersey, efforts have been made to make sure everyone can cast their ballot without any interference.
Dan Engelhardt, deputy director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness said election security in the Garden State has become a top priority.
“Elections have a tremendous impact on our lives living in a democracy, and free and fair elections are foundational,” he said.
Engelhardt said NJOHSP and the division of elections are helping coordinate the state’s Election Security Coordination Task Force, a unit that works year-round, “and employs state-of-the-art technology and security measures to monitor election infrastructure for any signs of cyber threats, vulnerabilities or irregularities.”
He said task force members, which include the New Jersey State Police, the Board of Public Utilities, the U.S. Postal Service and local police departments work throughout the year to conduct risk assessments, harden elections infrastructure, and develop and implement strategies to ensure the voting process is fair.
Mike Geraghty, the director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell said when a hazard is encountered “man-made or natural disaster, that’s what this organization is prepared to tackle.”
Engelhardt said in the event of a security incident, the task force “will assist affected entities to mitigate any threats and protect the integrity of the election.”
New Jersey Lt. Governor and Secretary of State Tahesha Way, who oversees the Division of Elections, said under current state law, police officers are not allowed to be stationed at polling locations on election day.
“We just want to make sure that our voters do not feel any voter intimidation,” she said.
If there is an incident at a voting location police will respond immediately, Way said, but “the officer responding knows that he or she can remain at the location solely for the duration necessary to address and resolve the issue.”
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said attorneys from the office of public integrity and accountability are working 24-7 to monitor any claims of voter intimidation or improper electioneering.
“If anybody feels that they’re being subjected to discrimination or harassment in connection with voting we encourage you to report that as well to our division on civil rights, you can go on their website, bias.njcivilrights.gov or call them at 1-800-277-BIAS,” he said.
Engelhardt said the main message “for our voters and fellow citizens here in New Jersey is to be very confident about the electoral process, and please take advantage of that process.”