© 2024 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

IL County Clerks to Help Evaluate Election Cybersecurity

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.

Credit submitted / Illinois Board of Elections
Illinois Board of Elections
Ken Menzel, IL Board of Elections General Counsel

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.

Officially, Michelle's title for 28 years was WVIK News Editor. She did everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever was needed around the radio station. She also served as Acting News Director from September 2023 - January 2024.