Illinois Meets With Illinois State Board Of Elections Director To Discuss Election Security Funding

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Rules Committee, today once again met with Steve Sandvoss, the Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, to discuss continued federal funding for election security.  Last year, Illinois received $13.2 million in new federal funding to strengthen its election security systems, part of the Fiscal Year 2018 federal omnibus spending bill that provided $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).  Mr. Sandvoss testified at the public House Appropriations Committee hearing today.

“The Russians’ successful hack of Illinois’ electronic voter database in the 2016 elections was a wake-up call and demonstrated a clear vulnerability in our election security.  Because of this, both the federal and state governments must continue to work together to implement additional security in order to prevent this sort of meddling in our elections ever again,” Durbin said.  “Thankfully, Illinois has taken a number of encouraging steps to enhance our election security since 2016.  I will continue to work with Mr. Sandvoss to provide additional federal resources to maintain the Cyber Navigator Program and provide local jurisdictions with further assistance to update their voting equipment so that Illinoisans and Americans can be confident in our democratic process.”

Photos of today’s meeting are available here.

With some of the federal funding awarded last year, Illinois created a Cyber Navigator Program, which is designed to support the efforts of local election authorities to defend against cyber breaches and detect and recover from cyberattacks with three components:

  • A secure communications network that will connect local election authorities with the Board and other state agencies;
  • An outreach manager who will facilitate information sharing between local officials, state agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies; and,
  • A team of cyber navigators, who will work with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology to provide cyber protection services to local officials.

Last week, Durbin, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Gary Peters (D-MI), pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on recent reports that DHS cut staff at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, despite warnings that foreign adversaries continue to target U.S. election infrastructure.

Durbin previously met with Mr. Sandvoss in June 2017.

Beginning in June 2016, the Illinois State Board of Elections was the target of a malicious, month-long cyberattack that enabled the intruder to access confidential voter information and view the registration data of approximately 76,000 voters in Illinois.  Last year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians for their activities to interfere in the 2016 election by engaging in a sustained operation to hack into the computer networks of Democratic campaign organizations, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and state and local election administrators and vendors. The indictment specifically included charges related to the Russians’ attack on a state board of elections, which was presumed to be the Illinois State Board of Elections.