"I would be really strongly tempted to see if I could make SpongeBob SquarePants win"

Taking seriously an apparent threat from a notorious collective of computer hackers, the Iowa Republican Party is boosting the security of the electronic systems it will use in two weeks to count the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Investigators don’t know if the threat is authentic, but it has nonetheless led the state party to confront a worst-case scenario. Their fear: an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House. …

“It’s very clear the data consolidation and data gathering from the caucuses, which determines the headlines the next morning, who might withdraw or resign from the process, all of that is fragile,” said Douglas Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa who has consulted for both political parties.

“If I were one of these `hacktivists’ who had no scruples, I would be really strongly tempted to see if I could get into the computer and see if I could make `SpongeBob SquarePants’ win.”