Will the real Florida Secretary of State website please stand up?

Here’s a new one; I got some email earlier today indicating that NASS is distributing a warning to its members that there are folks who are developing alternative and unofficial websites, that appear to mimic official secretary of state websites. The case in point is Florida, and Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning is warning his colleagues in other states that their websites may also be subject to this potential problem.

Here is the offiicial Florida Secretary of State website, http://www.dos.state.fl.

Here is the unofficial one http://www.floridasecretaryofstate.com.

Notice that the official page has the usual material you expect to find on most Secretary of State websites: corporate filings, voting and elections information, state historical information, and so on. Notice that the unofficial site seems largely focused on links to external, non-state websites, dealing with business issues.

While this doesn’t directly relate to election administration, it is a warning, given that many states are moving many election adminstration applications to their websites. Voters and others will need to be wary of what websites they use for election administration applications, like voter registration materials, checking on upcoming elections and polling place locations, and so on. Developing an unofficial website can just be a distraction for voters and others seeking some type of online interaction with their government; at worst, though, it is clear that deliberate efforts to spoof government websites are possible, and that they can be used to distract or misinform voters, to steal personal information, or to engage in other forms of improper activities.