Concerns have been raised about election hacking in the wake of the 2016 elections. As the next presidential race approaches, Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman said there’s no need to worry about somebody changing your actual vote.
“The topic’s gotten convoluted with mixing hacking of voter databases with actually being able to manipulate and change votes. Here in Tazewell County, and actually throughout the state of Illinois, you cannot electronically hack and change the votes cast by citizens," Ackerman said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released its report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Illinois was the first state hit by Russian hackers during the 2016 election cycle.
By the end of 2018, the Senate report found up to 200 thousand Illinois voter records were compromised, including names, birthdays, partial Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and addresses.
Intelligence operatives found that though the hackers could have altered or deleted the data they accessed, they found no evidence of that happening. Ackerman says there are a number of fail-safes in place to protect the actual integrity of the ballots cast.
Ackerman said every county in Illinois manages its voter databases differently.
“You’d have to hack 102 counties in Illinois. There’s no central database where all the votes are," he said.
He said even if foreign actors were able to hack each county voter database and alter votes, there are paper backups of the ballots cast to ensure the correct vote is being recorded.
In 2018, the Illinois State Board of Elections announced it is beefing up its cybersecurity and the safeguards for the state's 108 election authorities, using a federal grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.