NEW YORK -- Heeding warnings that terrorists could try to disrupt the fall elections, state and local election officials are aiming to coordinate communications and decision-making with governors and security officials so that voting goes as smoothly as possible.
Top election officials made public yesterday recommendations sent to state and local officials, encouraging several steps, including identifying key decision-makers, which decisions to weigh if there are increased threat warnings or actual attacks, and the best ways to communicate with the public.
"This election cannot be postponed," New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron said. "If something should happen in New York City, the elections in New Mexico will continue, as is the case in California and Utah, and so on."
Federal officials last week repeated their concerns that terrorists could be aiming to attack before the Nov. 2 general election, but said they have no new information indicating a time, place, or method of attack.
Vigil-Giron said planners should ensure that elections continue securely, but also without scaring voters -- for instance, by stationing heavily armed guards at the polls. "The last thing we want to see happening is a National Guardsman standing there with a rifle, keeping watch," she said.
Senior counterterrorism officials in Washington said yesterday that Al Qaeda's threat to attack the United States before the Nov. 2 election is geared toward making a violent statement to Islamic extremists worldwide.
The election recommendations made public yesterday followed discussions among officials at the National Governors Association, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Association of State Election Directors, and others.