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Educate yourself on candidates for office, how to properly identify disinformation
By Mark C. Poloncarz
Mar 19, 2024, 14:10
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There is a consequential election happening this year and my recent visit to Washington D.C. reminded me of the importance of exercising our constitutional right to vote as well as the importance of addressing the increase in disinformation.

I met with President Joe Biden while I was in our nationís capital and spoke with him about some of the issues facing our country. I was happy to speak with him about his policies on inflation, investing in our infrastructure, and addressing the climate crisis.

I also had a meeting with Caitlin Durkovich, director of the National Security Councilís Election Integrity Unit, about the growing dangers of misinformation and disinformation being generated and widely circulated online. The importance of dispelling misinformation cannot be understated. Our elections are run with integrity, honesty, professionalism and complete transparency. However, new technology that uses social media platforms and artificial intelligence to spread disinformation remains our biggest threat. Concentrated efforts to further polarize and divide us by creating falsehoods that distract and confuse people will result in us not spending nearly as much time on important civic debate.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated earlier this week that the increase in disinformation, especially A.I. generated content, is a true threat to democracies everywhere, including our country. Russian interference in our elections and governing happened in the past, but believe me when I say it will be absolutely terrible this year with A.I. generated content spreading lies and sowing dissension.
Iím not surprised to read about automated bots and online trolls spreading falsehoods across social media and promoting conspiracy theories on a variety of topics, including here in Erie County We can disagree on policy, but what we canít allow to happen is for opponents of democracy to use disinformation to grow cynicism and instability by pitting us against one another through the clear intent of discrediting our institutions. Russia and China have spent incredible amounts of money to spread propaganda. It is incumbent on each of us to be very weary of anything we read on social media from non-traditional sources.
Please educate yourself on who is on the ballot in races for public office this year, including the presidential primary election, which will take place on April 2. Early voting for the presidential primary election begins on March 23 and runs through March 30.

Itís crucial that everyone who is eligible participates in this important democratic process and exercises their right to vote in elections that will determine who represents them. If you have questions about your voter eligibility or anything else concerning voting in Erie County, please visit www.elections.erie.gov or call 716-858-8891.

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