Illinois’ Bold Move to Safeguard Elections in 2024: What You Need to Know!

With the 2024 election approaching, Illinois legislators are holding meetings with state and local election officials to ensure the security of your votes. The House Ethics and Elections Committee stated on Wednesday that Illinois remains vigilant in the face of evolving threats to the electoral process.

“Democracy rests on the foundation that every vote in any election will be counted swiftly, accurately, and securely,” declared Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford). “Attacks on this process are attacks on all of us.”

In recent years, Illinois lawmakers have enacted various plans to expand voting access. However, both Democrats and Republicans are aware of the increasing spread of conspiracy theories about election security and ballot harvesting within the state.

The Illinois State Board of Elections administers the Cyber Navigator program, aiding local election authorities in defending against, detecting, and recovering from cyber attacks. The ISBE is also responsible for testing voting equipment before each election.

Brian Pryor, the ISBE Election Operations Director, explained, “Verified ballot boxes have tamper-proof keys and seals for newly certified systems. We ensure that all memory cards and flash drives are secure with tamper-proof seals or locks. Bar codes or QR codes are one-time use only and cannot be reused.”

Election authorities emphasized the safety and security of voting by mail. The State Board of Elections plans to air public service announcements throughout 2024 to address misinformation about the vote-by-mail process.

ISBE spokesman Matt Dietrich also mentioned that the Illinois State Police assist in monitoring deliberate misinformation on social media platforms. He emphasized the need for vigilance against fake ads and content generated through artificial intelligence.

“We maintain direct lines of communication with the social media companies themselves,” Dietrich explained. “They have employees dedicated to working with the government, specifically regarding elections. This enables us to report and have damaging content removed.”

Local election authorities also informed lawmakers about their efforts to enhance their presence on social media to counter misinformation from popular blogs and Facebook groups. However, there is a growing concern about potential acts of physical violence at polling places. Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman proposed that lawmakers consider passing a plan to protect election judges in case they face attacks or harassment from disgruntled voters.

“Consider treating them similarly to other members of the circuit court,” Ackerman suggested. “An attack at a polling location should be viewed in the same light as harassment or an attack at a court.”

Ackerman further proposed the creation of an election security grant program to help local election authorities recruit security personnel for polling places. He also recommended that election judge training include information on de-escalation techniques to ensure the safety of workers and other voters.


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