Arizona training election employees, law enforcement on AI hoaxes, deep fakes

Jan 4, 2024, 12:07 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 7:41 am

PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes doesn’t want officials and law enforcement to fall victim to artificial intelligence hoaxes in 2024 elections, so he’s being proactive with training.

Fontes told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday his office conducted a “tabletop exercise” where elections officials and law enforcement from the local, statewide and national levels were run through different scenarios they could face this election season.

“We really used those to test whether or not folks were going to sort of fall into the traps that were set,” Fontes said. “It was a really good way to prepare for some of the possible bad acts that we might see in ’24.”

Why are AI hoaxes a concern in Arizona for upcoming elections?

AI made a jump into the mainstream in 2023. Arizona’s standing as a swing state and recent history with election conspiracies could see it be more susceptible to hoaxes in the coming year compared to other states, according to Fontes.

Deep fakes of Fontes, other elections officials and security personnel were created and used in the training. One of the more common hoax tactics highlighted was the use of AI to replicate voices of notable officials, including Fontes, to spread misinformation.

Officials were placed into groups with others they weren’t familiar, a decision Fontes said he made to fully educate everyone on potential hoaxes.

A panel of national experts also gave a presentation to educate Arizona leaders about what they can anticipate seeing.

“They gave a really great panel presentation about the technology just to get folks familiar with it so that it’s not a mystery to the people who might have to deal with that,” Fontes said.

Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election is set for March 19, the first opportunity to put the training to the test. It will be followed by the primary election on Aug. 6 and the general election on Nov. 5.

“It was a great learning experience and I’m very proud of the work that we are doing to prepare for 2024,” Fontes said.

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Arizona training election employees, law enforcement on AI hoaxes, deep fakes