By Cleve Bryan


BURLINGTON COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — Election officials are scrambling to secure the vote before New Jerseyans head to the polls for campaign 2020. New Jersey is is taking unprecedented action to make sure you and your vote are safe.

From natural disasters to cyberattacks, New Jersey election officials are determined to make sure that voters will be able to exercise their rights in next November’s elections. On Tuesday, they held the first-ever statewide training workshop on election security for representatives from every county, from Sussex to Cape May.

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“It is about coming here, being part of exercises which deal with preparedness and fast paced hypotheticals so that they can test for any challenges and make corrective actions moving forward,” New Jersey’s Secretary of State Tahesha Way says.

Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says Russian interference in the 2016 election was eye-opening and cyberattacks are real.

All the way down to the local election systems.

“The Russians and other nation states and numerous other bad actors are still at it and are still determined to have an influence on our democracy and your voting infrastructure,” Johnson said.

Malware and other cyberattacks are known to shut down government computer systems as Philadelphia courts experienced that earlier this year.

These roundtable exercises prepare county workers on what to do if that happens on or before Election Day.

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They even covered how to handle unexpected obstacles like measles outbreaks and tornadoes.

“It was a big undertaking and a success, an absolute success on their behalf and it’s something that now we can address in our plans based on what they’ve done,” Atlantic City County Emergency Management Director Vince Jones says.

Election officials say that when it comes to cyberattacks, the public plays an important role in spotting irregularities on government websites for reporting them and not spreading malware on private or public computers.