Illinois officials assured voters Tuesday that their Nov. 6 tallies “will be securely counted” after a data breach that’s part of the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
Board of Elections Chairman William Cadigan and a group of state and local officials — including Illinois National Guard leaders — said in Chicago that beefed-up measures to monitor and spot cybersecurity risks will ensure a fair and free election.
“We’re as prepared as we ought to be right now, given the information we have,” Cadigan said. “People should get out and vote because your vote is going to count and at the end of the day, we believe it’s going to be securely counted.”
The board hired three cybersecurity experts to watch elections and voter-data systems for irregularities, Cadigan said, including one housed at the Illinois State Police Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center. Local elections administrators have undergone rigorous training and the National Guard is on call for emergencies.
* ABC 7…
On Election Day next month in Illinois, hundreds of National Guard troopers will be standing by for action.
If needed, they won’t depend on rifles and bayonets but will be armed with laptops and IT expertise.
The unprecedented move comes after cyber attackers, believed to be Russians, hacked the official Illinois voter database before the 2016 presidential election.
“We can have a guardsman-expert dispatched within an hour to anywhere in Illinois. We’ll have boots on the ground in whatever county, in whatever election authority, is affected within an hour,” said Chuck Scholz, a board member of the Illinois State Board of Elections.
* WGN TV…,
Election officials said they have installed greater firewall protections for voter records and election results, thorough and detailed cyber training for clerks and election judges and are working with national agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and now for the first time in Illinois election history—the National Guard.
The Department of Homeland Security has secured about $13 million that will go toward Illinois voting security programs to ensure the system isn’t hacked again.
Officials said Illinois keeps a paper record of every ballot cast, ensuring an accurate final tally once the results are certified weeks after Election Day even if hackers compromise voting systems.
“Voters here should feel confident in the fundamentals,” Cook County Clerk Director of Elections Noah Praetz said. “Because in Illinois, we can ensure that every legal voter can vote, and we can deliver results that are trusted and true.”
NBC News this week reported that a federal Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment warned of a “growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018.”
That NBC News report is here.
Even with additional training, some counties are finding it difficult to implement security upgrades without more resources, according to NBC 5’s anonymous survey.
“Our county does not have the money,” one respondent wrote.