To most people, the mundane sound of typing on a computer keyboard does not have any special significance. But in the computer server room of the Sangamon County, Ill., Board of Elections, the tapping signals the defense of our democracy. The county’s computers, like those in state and local election offices across the country, are the new battlefield against foreign attacks on our election system. Don Gray, the Sangamon County Clerk, likens the fight to a war. “We are at the frontlines of ensuring that the protections to the integrity of our elections is first at hand. We are working hard, we are staying focused, we are staying out in front, I spend the majority of my time analyzing and staying in proper positioning to thwart these type of attacks,” Gray told Fox News. “Cyber threats are a reality and we take it seriously. What happened to us was bad, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse,” said Steve Sandvoss, the executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. “The threat is ongoing and it is very serious.”Full Article: Illinois says it's prepared for another election hack | Fox News.
Articles about voting issues in Illinois.
Illinois: Mueller report confirms Russians ‘compromised’ Illinois State Board of Elections | Chicago Sun-Times
The Mueller Report confirms the Russians tried to hack the Illinois Board of Elections website in 2016. “In one instance in approximately June 2016, the GRU compromised the computer network of the Illinois State Board of Elections by exploiting a vulnerability in the SBOE’s website. The GRU then gained access to a database containing information on millions of registered Illinois voters and extracted data related to thousands of U.S. voters before the malicious activity was identified,” the report states. This was part of an effort of the Russian intelligence agency — the GRU — to determine “vulnerabilities” on websites of more than two dozen states, including Illinois. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the hacking attempt in 2017. The hack had nothing to do with counting votes in elections in Illinois. The hackers looked at voting registration data: name, address, date of birth, gender and the last four digits in the Social Security number. In all, hackers searched through about 80,000 records, with the elections board confirming the records of just under 3,000 voters were viewed by the hackers.Full Article: Mueller report confirms Russians 'compromised' Illinois State Board of Elections | Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois: Cook County rolling out new voting machines in west suburbs, expects countywide use by 2020 primaries | Chicago Tribune
New voting machines are coming to three west suburban Cook County townships for next week’s consolidated elections in preparation for a countywide rollout next year. The Cook County clerk’s office will test machines in 147 precincts in Oak Park, River Forest and Proviso townships, and hopes to have the new voting machines in every suburban Cook County precinct by the 2020 presidential primary election. “Our current equipment has served us well for a decade, but these new machines have the latest technology,” county Clerk Karen Yarbrough said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “The touch screens are more intuitive and accessible for voters with disabilities, and every single voter will get to review their ballot with paper in their hands before their vote is cast,” Yarbrough said. Each machine can accommodate three voters at one time, with two touch screens and a paper ballot. A voter will use the touch screen as a ballot marker, then print the ballot to review it, according to a demonstration by the clerk’s election director, Tonya Rice. The voter will then hand the ballot in a privacy sleeve to an election judge, who will initial it and place it in the scanner. The scanner accepts the paper ballot and creates an image of the ballot. Because it’s the same machine, the paper ballot and touch screen ballots are automatically consolidated, according to information provided by the clerk’s office. One touch screen is lower to accommodate voters who use wheelchairs, and voters will be able to change the text size and color contrast if they need. An audio ballot is available in English, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese.Full Article: Cook County rolling out new voting machines in west suburbs, expects countywide use by 2020 primaries - Chicago Tribune.
Illinois: Senate Republicans express support for redistricting amendment | The State Journal-Register
Illinois Senate Republicans expressed support for an amendment to the state constitution that would create a non-partisan system for drawing legislative maps. Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4 would replace the current legislative redistricting method with a 16-member commission appointed by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the most senior Supreme Court justice of a different political party. The public would be able to submit maps for the commission to consider. Public hearings are also provided for in the amendment. The measure has sponsors from both parties.Full Article: Senate Republicans express support for redistricting amendment - News - The State Journal-Register - Springfield, IL.
The Chicago elections board can’t guarantee the integrity of voting results in the event of a natural disaster or cyberattack, the city’s watchdog warned Tuesday in a highly critical report of the agency’s operations. The wide-ranging audit by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson also concluded that the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners does not post many job openings and has not conducted employee performance reviews in a at least 10 years. Ferguson said the board was warned a decade ago about many of the financial problems he’s uncovered and failed to correct them. It’s the technological vulnerabilities, however, that the inspector general’s office found that could attract the most public attention. Governments have become increasingly concerned about computer hacks and the possibility of meddling in elections.Full Article: Audit: Chicago Elections Board Not Ready for a Cyberattack.
The Illinois State Board of Elections voted 8-0 on Tuesday to remove Illinois from Crosscheck, a controversial multi-state anti-voter fraud program. The program was started by Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska in 2005, with the goal of cross-referencing voter rolls to identify duplicate voter registrations. The program was spearheaded by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who also served on President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission was later disbanded without issuing a report on voter fraud. Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said the main reason Illinois is withdrawing from the Kansas-administered Crosscheck is to create a new data sharing agreement with Indiana.Full Article: Illinois drops out of controversial Crosscheck anti-voter fraud program - HOIABC.
After a decade-long push by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, approval from voters last March, and the change of a state law in July, the county board has voted in favor of the dissolution of the election commission. With an 11-7 vote the dissolution starts immediately. Aside from an estimated $300,000 in annual savings to county taxpayers, the merger will streamline services, with the County Clerk helming the commission’s duties and addressing past problems at the polls. The push for the vote came as a majority of the board- those being republican, felt it was necessary to adopt the merger as soon as possible for the April 2 election.Full Article: DuPage County Election Commission Dissolves | Naperville NCTV17.
Nearly 187,000 people were registered to vote since July 1 through the state’s automatic voter registration system, the state Board of Elections said in a recent report to the Illinois General Assembly. Despite that, a group of voting rights advocates said Secretary of State Jesse White has been slow in implementing the law and that it is violating both state and federal voter registration laws. … “Automatic voter registration is up and running and it’s going very well,” said White spokesman Henry Haupt. Not so, says Just Democracy, a coalition of organizations that advocate for voting rights, including Common Cause, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and CHANGE Illinois.Full Article: Nearly 187,00 register to vote through new registration system | State and Regional | pantagraph.com.
Illinois: Cook County Board approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit | Chicago Sun Times
Residents in suburban Cook County could be the first voters to use new election equipment next year. The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday awarded a 10-year contract for nearly $31 million to Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., which would mean an update for the county’s equipment, some of which is at least a decade old. The older technology could open the county up to threats to election security. The contract first came before the County Board in March, but two bid protests by Election Systems & Software, which has provided election equipment for the county in the past, delayed the vote. The roll out of the new equipment is still in question. Cook County Clerk David Orr said it’s too late to begin testing the equipment and training poll workers for the November election, but he hopes that testing can begin in suburban Cook during the February and April elections. Orr called the unanimous vote “a plus for many, but especially for voters.”Full Article: Cook County Board approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm's lawsuit.
A supplier of election equipment brought a federal complaint in protest of the more than $30 million contract that Cook County, Illinois, is set to iron out Wednesday with another vendor. One of the voting machines offered by Election Systems & Software, which brought a federal complaint against Cook County, Illinois, on Sept. 25, 2018. As alleged by Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software, the state should not even have allowed Dominion Voting Systems to bid on the contract because the Illinois Board of Elections has not certified the latter’s system. Represented by the firm Vedder Price, Election Systems & Software filed its suit Tuesday in Chicago. ESS, as the plaintiff abbreviates its name in the complaint, notes that Cook County put out the request for proposals early last year with an eye toward purchasing or leasing a blended voting system that would feature both pen-marking and touch-screen ballot technology.Full Article: Maker of Voting Machines Takes Aim at Cook County Contract.
Illinois: Fellow Democrats rap Jesse White for automatic voter registration holdup | Chicago Sun-Times
Three Democratic state representatives joined voting rights advocates Monday to criticize Secretary of State Jesse White for failing to implement automatic voter registration in time for the November election — but the critics and White disagreed on whether the matter will wind up in court. Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, and Rep. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, led the news conference at the Thompson Center criticizing White, who is currently seeking his sixth term. White’s rollout of the program was initially planned for July, and would have been complete ahead of November’s general election. But after delays, it is now expected to be in place by mid-year 2019, according to White’s office.Full Article: Fellow Democrats rap Jesse White for automatic voter registration holdup | Chicago Sun-Times.
The state of Illinois is working to beef up voter security through its Cyber Navigator Program, a program that will require at least half of the $13.9 million in federal funding the state received for election upgrades. The program, which is still being finalized, will provide training and grants to local election officials. The state will conduct risk assessments of each participating county to ensure that clerks are using best practices, and the program will also put all participating counties on a centralized, more secure internet network. The program is a reaction to Russian hacking in the 2016 election, which gave hackers access to 76,000 active Illinois voter registrations. As the state works to coordinate the logistics, some West Central Illinois counties are split on its value.Full Article: Not all WCIL counties on board with election cyber security upgrades - Herald-Whig -.
Illinois: Governor Blocks Bill To Tell People With Criminal Histories About Their Voting Rights | HuffPost
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) blocked legislation on Friday that would have required corrections officials throughout the state to help people detained in jails and prisons understand whether they can vote. The bill would have required election and corrections officials to offer ballots to people being detained in jail prior to their trials who want to vote. It would have also required corrections officials to provide voter registration forms to people being released from jail and information about voting rights to those leaving prison. The bill was meant to reduce the confusion about voting rights that contributes to voter disenfranchisement. People detained in jails often have no idea they are eligible to vote, let alone how to request a ballot to do so. The policies governing whether felons can vote when they are released from prison vary widely from state to state. Offenders, as well as parole officers and other corrections officials, can easily be confused about who has the right to vote.Full Article: Illinois Governor Blocks Bill To Tell People With Criminal Histories About Their Voting Rights | HuffPost.
Illinois: GOP chair praises ‘nonpartisan’ effort to eliminate Bloomington Election Commission | WJBC
The chairman of the McLean County Republican Party said it was satisfying to work on a nonpartisan issue even though leaders from the local Democratic Party were not involved. Republicans and Libertarians filed a petition Monday for a judge to decide whether to place on the November ballot a binding referendum to get rid of the Bloomington Election Commission. The county clerk would run all county elections. County GOP Chair Connie Beard said the two parties gathered almost 1,300 signatures, which exceeds the required 1,000 signatures. County Democratic leaders believe the referendum is a political move, but Beard said Democratic voters were among those who signed the petition.Full Article: GOP chair praises ‘nonpartisan’ effort to eliminate Bloomington Election Commission | WJBC AM 1230.
Illinois: Elections officials hear cybersecurity plan that doesn’t address aging election machines | MDJ Online
While the state elections board unveils details about its Cyber Navigator Program to help local election officials secure cyberspace, some county clerks are worried about the security of aging voting machines. The Illinois State Board of Elections held a public hearing Wednesday outlining its plan to offer up a central network for local elections officials for improved cybersecurity. The plan includes hiring 9 cyber navigators that will go around the state assessing vulnerabilities in the 108 different local election jurisdictions. While acknowledging some smaller jurisdictions can definitely use the help, Logan County Clerk Sally Turner said one of her chief concerns is voting machines. “It’s really getting old and if your county doesn’t have a lot of money, that makes it difficult to be able to go out and purchase election equipment and that’s something we’re all needing very quickly,” Turner said.Full Article: Elections officials hear cybersecurity plan that doesn’t address aging election machines | News | mdjonline.com.
The Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) faced scrutiny after Illinois became one of 39 states hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election. ISBE said only voter rolls were hacked, and no ballots were tampered with. The board’s IT Director Matt Emmons said Tuesday that’s why cybersecurity specialists are imperative. “There’s always a threat,” Emmons said. “Threat is an outside factor, an outside force. So we’re operating under the assumption that there will be a threat 100 percent of the time.” Emmons spoke Tuesday in Normal to the Central Illinois chapter of BDPA, an organization for African-Americans and other minorities in the information technology (IT) and STEM fields. He was joined by McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and the county’s chief information officer, Craig Nelson.Full Article: Russian Hacking Points To Need For Cybersecurity Specialists | WGLT.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that he doesn’t see “any reason” for Illinois to end its participation in a controversial multistate voter registration system, which critics have called inaccurate and vulnerable to hackers. Rauner’s remarks came one day before he faces a deadline to act on a bill that would withdraw Illinois from the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. The database is run through the Kansas secretary of state’s office and is aimed at flagging duplicate voter registrations across state lines. “I don’t see any reason why we should get out of that as a state,” the governor said at an unrelated appearance about gun control.Full Article: Despite Hacking Concerns, Governor Won't Pull Illinois From Voter Database.
Last week, Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that a dozen Russians were indicted for hacking offenses tied to the 2016 presidential elections. In addition to the indictments, Rosenstein asserted that Russian intelligence officers stole information on approximately 500,000 voters from a hacked state election board website. Illinois previously disclosed that it notified 76,000 residents that they may have had their voter registration data viewed by the attackers. And although the Illinois State Board of Elections is not specifically mentioned in Rosenstein’s speech nor in the grand jury indictment issued by the DOJ, the Illinois State Board of Elections believes the reference relates to it. “As far as we know, we are the only state that experienced an actual breach, which is why we stated that we believe we are the ‘SBOE 1’ referred to in Count 11, paragraph 72 [of the indictment],” Matt Dietrich, public information officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections, told Government Technology.Full Article: Hacked Voter Records in Illinois Soar to Half a Million.
Illinois: County GOP joins effort to end Bloomington Election Commission | Government and Politics | pantagraph.com
Voters may finally have their say on the Bloomington Election Commission. Months after the McLean County Libertarian Party started circulating petitions for a ballot question that would dissolve the BEC, the McLean County Republican Party is throwing its weight behind the proposal as well. “It was unanimous: We think this is an issue that should go before the public,” said party Chair Connie Beard of a vote among precinct committeemen last week. “We think eliminating the BEC would increase efficiency, save taxpayer dollars and make the process more directly connected to voter control.”Full Article: County GOP joins effort to end Bloomington Election Commission | Government and Politics | pantagraph.com.
Illinois: Legislation to disband DuPage County election commission clears Illinois Senate | Daily Herald
DuPage County will gain the power to disband the county election commission if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs legislation now on his desk. The Illinois Senate on Friday unanimously approved the legislation that would amend the Election Code to allow DuPage County to dissolve its election commission and transfer its functions to the county clerk’s office. The state House approved the measure last month. “This is a major step forward for DuPage County government,” county board Chairman Dan Cronin said Friday. “We’re streamlining an operation that’s been around for a while and is antiquated.”Full Article: Legislation to disband DuPage County election commission clears Illinois Senate.