IL County Clerks to Help Evaluate Election Cybersecurity

Jul 11, 2017
Originally published on July 5, 2017 3:09 am

As Congress holds hearings to investigate the presidential election, two politicians are trying to assess the security of local election systems in Illinois.

Michelle O'Neill reports US Senator Dick Durbin and Illinois State Senator Michael Hastings, of Tinley Park, have asked 110 county clerks and election authorities to give them information about their voting systems.

Steve Sandvoss, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Elections, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington DC last month. The board is working with the FBI to protect Illinois election systems and voter registration information, and prevent future cyber-attacks from being successful.

Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin, and Illinois State Senator Michael Hastings have also sent a list of questions to municipal election authorities. Ken Menzel, the Illinois Board of Elections General Counsel, says they want to know how much protection local voter registration and election systems already provide.

Menzel says Illinois has only had a statewide list of registered voters for about eleven years. So hackers have been trying to get into the database since 2006. What was different in June, 2016 is that they succeeded.

During a hearing in May, the Illinois State Senate Subcommittee on Cybersecurity learned more about last year's cyber-attack. It's also been confirmed that Illinois and Arizona were targets, and the attackers may have targeted other states.

After the 2000 election, the Help American Vote Act, or HAVA, helped counties pay for the optical scan and touch screen machines. The county clerks and election commissions in Illinois are independent, and they bought a wide variety of equipment that's now starting to get old.

Steve Sandvoss, head of the Illinois Board of Elections, wants to fix that. He asked the Senate Intelligence Committee for authorization to use the state's HAVA funds to buy new election equipment.

Copyright 2017 WVIK, Quad Cities NPR. To see more, visit WVIK, Quad Cities NPR.