Experts from the local, state and federal levels appeared before a special meeting of the House Committee on Homeland Security in Gurnee hosted by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood on the state of election security in Illinois

Underwood and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten asked the panel about voter suppression efforts. Casten said he viewed the hack of Illinois’ voter registration data in 2016 as more of an effort to frustrate voting at polling places than to alter any actual ballots and there is no evidence any Illinois ballots were altered as a result of the registration data breach. However, Matt Masterson, a senior cybersecurity adviser with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said all information points to the 2020 elections as a major target of “bad actors.”

To mitigate risks, experts said the country needs a $2.2 billion upgrade to “antiquated” voting systems. In Illinois, the cost would be about $175 million. After blocking election security legislation, like the SAFE Act, that mandates $600 million, Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell now backs legislation that will provide $250 million to help states protect the vote. However, McConnell is still facing criticism, as the $250 million in funding falls far short of the billions experts estimate states will need over the next 5 years in order to protect elections from security threats. Under McConnell’s plan, Illinois would receive approximately $1 million.

Steve Sandvoss, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, promoted Illinois’ Cyber Navigator Program which provides technical support to local election authorities who typically don’t have the budget to support a dedicated IT staff to protect elections.

Additionally, Sandvoss said all election authorities should be proactive in combating the disinformation. To that end, he said Illinois will launch a public-relations campaign to counteract any disinformation on social media regarding Illinois’ elections.

Fuller, James “Experts say Illinois’ 2020 ballots will be safe but warn of ‘antiquated equipment,’ false information”

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