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Letters to the Editor

Illinois about to launch one of nation’s strongest election security systems

Racing to shore up their election systems before November, states are using millions of dollars from the federal government to tighten cybersecurity, safeguard their voter registration rolls and improve communication between county and state election officers.

Voters will have the chance to weigh on on a variety of referenda questions this November. | AP file photo

The Illinois State Board of Elections respectfully disagrees with the statement in your Sept. 9 editorial that “state bureaucrats are sitting on several million dollars earmarked for election security.”

In fact, the Illinois State Board of Elections is in the process of launching what will be one of the nation’s strongest statewide election cybersecurity efforts in the newly launched Cyber Navigator Program.

The state budget passed on May 31 requires that the State Board of Elections use “no less than half” of Illinois’ $13.9 million in federal aid under the Help America Vote Act to create and administer the Cyber Navigator Program which, among many other functions, will send nine “cyber navigators” into Illinois’ 108 local election authorities and establish a statewide protocol for election-related cybersecurity.

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While we are required to spend half of the federal grant on the program, the reality is that it could cost well over $6.9 million to both conduct this effort and provide local election authorities the money needed to address any problems it identifies.

The bipartisan, eight-member governing board that oversees the Board of Elections believes ensuring the financial health and success of the Cyber Navigator Program must be the priority in using our federal grant. It will do no good to identify an election authority’s vulnerabilities without then providing the resources to fix them.

Having experienced and addressed a data breach two years ago that the U.S. Justice Department now attributes to Russian hackers, it is our goal today  to make sure no county or municipal election office in Illinois becomes the next victim. Enacting a robust, statewide cybersecurity effort is the surest way to achieve that goal while bolstering public confidence in the integrity of the process that is the foundation of our democracy.

Steven S. Sandvoss
Executive Director
Illinois State Board of Elections

The blue wave’s countercurrent

The GOP has fast become the minority party, but it manages to remain competitive by cheating. Oh, they don’t get called out for cheating by the Supreme Court, since they control its majority, but they are suppressing the Democratic vote — and that should not be allowed.

We were all surprised when Donald Trump won the presidency, but we needn’t have been. The voter purges and denial of vote by unnecessary voter identification laws, and the complete breakdown of voting in Detroit, gave Trump his victory.

The anticipated “blue wave” in the November elections may not be enough to overcome the GOP’s shenanigans.  Gerrymandering makes a mockery of the concept of one-man-one-vote.  Between 2014 and 2016, the GOP has purged 16 million voters from of the rolls. We are losing our democracy.

Lee Knohl, Skokie