Durbin, Quigley, Clerk Orr and State Election Officials Highlight New Funding for Election Security

CHICAGO – Illinois will receive $13.2 million in new federal funding to strengthen its election security systems, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) announced today along with Cook County Clerk David Orr and Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections Steve Sandvoss. The funding – which is part of the federal omnibus spending bill that was signed into law last month – will provide critical assistance to states that are using outdated and vulnerable election infrastructure. In 2016, Russia successfully hacked into the Illinois State Board of Elections’ voter registration system and targeted at least 20 other states with similar attacks.


“The Russians’ successful hack of Illinois’ voter systems in the 2016 elections was a wake-up call and demonstrated a clear vulnerability in our election security. We know that they will try to target our systems again during the 2018 midterm elections.” Durbin said. “Thankfully, this new funding will provide Illinois and the rest of the country with critical funding to address cyber vulnerabilities in our voter systems so that Americans can be confident in our democratic process.”


“Last year, the American people learned that Russia targeted at least 21 states in the lead-up to the 2016 elections,” said Rep. Quigley. “Unfortunately, many of the vulnerabilities that existed then continue to undermine our election infrastructure today, and the Intelligence Community has warned that Moscow will likely employ similar attacks in the midterms—now less than seven months away. That is why I was proud to use my position as Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the Election Assistance Commission to secure $380 million in new EAC grants to help states update and fortify our election systems to prevent future cyber-hacking. More work remains to protect our democratic process, and I look forward to continuing to work with Illinois leaders at every level of government to sound the alarm and implement the necessary security enhancements that will keep us safe.”


“Threats to our democracy are real and local elections administrators are on the frontlines in the battle to protect and defend our elections systems,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr. “While foreign governments, foreign non-state actors and domestic troublemakers seek to corrode the essential public belief that our election outcomes are true and reliable, this federal funding will serve to help the State Board of Elections defend our state.”


“This funding is vital to our efforts in helping election authorities around our state in replacement of aging voting equipment, enhancement of security measures to protect against cyber intrusions and other purposes needed to make the election process more efficient, secure and accessible,” said Sandvoss


The omnibus spending bill provides $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is responsible for distributing the money to state election authorities. The bill requires states to use the money to improve the administration of Federal elections, including to enhance election technology and make election security improvements. The grant funding gives states the flexibility to use these grants to address the most critical priorities in their own election security, including:


  • replacing outdated voting machines that do not provide a voter verified paper record;
  • implementing a post-election audit system that provides a high-level of confidence in the accuracy of final vote tallies;
  • upgrading election computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities;
  • facilitating cyber security training for the state chief election official's office and local election officials;
  • implementing established cybersecurity best practices for election systems; and
  • funding other activities that will improve the security of elections for federal office.


The EAC will soon be sharing additional information about the new grant with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The Board will then create a plan for how to best utilize the $13.2 million provided by Congress.


Beginning in June 2016, the Illinois State Board of Elections was the target of a malicious, month-long cyberattack.  A June 21, 2017, hearing in the United States Senate Intelligence Committee revealed the breach enabled the intruder to access confidential voter information from approximately 90,000 voter profiles whose information originated from every one of the 110 election authorities in Illinois.