Searching for some election-related information in Suffolk County?
Be careful what you search for — and how.
If you use the search engine Bing.com, and type in Suffolk County Board of Elections, the box on the right of your screen might be the first place you look. All appears correct at first glance. But if you click “website,” you aren’t directed to the Suffolk County Board of Elections website.
Instead, searchers find themselves at suffolkcountygop.com — with a large picture of Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and two words: Vote Republican.
A deeper dive into the box labeled Suffolk County Board of Elections on the Bing search finds that every social media site redirects to the Suffolk GOP, too, mostly labeled with a red elephant and “The Hunt for Republican November.”
The switcheroo has been going on for most of Monday.
It’s unclear how the change was made, and why it’s stuck, even though it’s apparently been reported to Bing. It’s possible that someone changed the name, address and phone number associated with the Suffolk GOP site to “Suffolk County Board of Elections,” forcing the search engine to find the wrong website. And Bing, which is owned by Microsoft, does allow readers to suggest an edit.
“We learned about the error today and it was immediately referred to the Suffolk County attorney and the IT commissioner to get this corrected with Microsoft,” said Gail Lolis, the county Board of Elections’ Democratic deputy commissioner. “We have no control over it.”
Meanwhile, searching via Google gives the top result as the New York State Board of Elections, followed by Suffolk County’s general website — which quickly reminds residents of the cyberattack that has caused much of the county’s web functions — including the Board of Elections website — to remain down.