CHICAGO – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as a Member on the House Intelligence Committee, led a press conference with Illinois election officials on the need to harden our defenses against election hacking. Rep. Quigley was joined by the Illinois State Board of Elections, Cook County Clerk’s Office, the DuPage County Election Commission, and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Click here to watch the press conference in its entirety.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians will be back in future attempts to undermine our democracy and influence our elections,” said Rep. Quigley. “In order to safeguard our democratic process, we must harden our defenses and invest in election infrastructure updates that are long overdue. I am pleased that Illinois has taken necessary steps to implement initial security enhancements, but too many other states have not done enough to update systems, establish contingency plans, or provide clear guidance for election officials in case of another hack. We must address this from every angle—from funding and resources to cybersecurity personnel—in order to protect our democratic institutions from future attacks in the 2018 midterms, the 2020 presidential election, and beyond.”
Earlier this year, the American people learned that Russian targeted 39 state election systems, including Illinois, in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. In Illinois, Russian hackers gained access to the state’s voter database, which contains sensitive information such as names, dates of birth, driver’s licenses, and partial social security numbers for 15 million people. Fortunately, the hackers failed to alter or delete any of the compromised information and there’s no evidence that Russia tampered with the vote counting process.
Click here to watch the video.
“Protecting the integrity of our multiple elections systems is necessary, it’s achievable, and it will be expensive, but the protection of the vote – a foundational institution of this country – is vital,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr. “Our security challenge is to ensure no attack exceeds our ability to detect and recover – whether that means restoring lost data or even recounting ballots to establish election results that are true and trusted.”
An estimated 42 states continue to use outdated voting machines susceptible to cyberintrusions and system crashes. Many of these voting machines, which can be more than a decade old, are not equipped to handle modern-day cybersecurity software. Additionally, 13 states continue to use voting machines that fail to produce a paper ballot or record.
“The Election Landscape has changed. With this change come new challenges to face head on,” said Joseph H. Sobecki, Executive Director, DuPage County Election Commission. “I am optimistic that with the cooperation of Election Authorities, assistance of our elected officials, and consultation with our technology experts, we will be able to develop standards and guidelines of best practices that, whether you live in southern Illinois, Chicago, or the suburbs, will be uniform throughout the State. It is also my hope that once this roadmap is complete, DuPage and other Election Authorities will receive the required funding to make attaining this goal a reality.”
“Often when we think of critical infrastructure, we think of financial networks, power grids and interstates. But our election systems should rank just as high, if not higher, given that the integrity of our elections is the very foundation for our entire government,” said Jim Allen, spokesman, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “We look to Homeland Security to provide growing levels of resources for all election agencies – rural, suburban and urban – as we seek to continue to defend our elections from outside attackers.”
As Ranking Member of the Financial Services & General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Quigley introduced an appropriations amendment to preserve and fund the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which House Republicans proposed to eliminate. He has also cosponsored the Protecting the American Process for Election Results (PAPER) Act to provide assistance to states allowing them to strengthen the cybersecurity defenses of their election systems. As an active member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Quigley is working to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and prevent future intrusions.