Early voting starts today in Illinois, and as the Morgan County Clerk’s Office works toward major elections in 2020, County Clerk Jill Waggoner says that her office is ready.
In conjunction with our recent interview with Illinois Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich on election cybersecurity in Illinois, WLDS News spoke with the Morgan County Clerk to find out how state level protocols effect polling security here at home.
Waggoner says that in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, the County Clerk’s Office was required to participate in the Illinois Cyber Navigation Program, which provided onsite Cyber Navigators who performed an onsite risk assessment of systems in the Clerk’s office. Waggoner says that several security measures were put in place after the review to ensure threats such as those in 2016, cannot happen in Morgan County going forward.
“Now we have a security framework, we have formalized procedures for assessing and patching security vulnerabilities, the system that we have in place will also monitor and alert us to any security events that will happen.
Also, the Department of Homeland Security performs a security scan of the system weekly. And then we have also migrated our connection here in this office to the State Board of Elections to a private encrypted connection, so at no point ever does this traffic touch a public internet.”
Waggoner says that additionally in 2020, her office will be updating and implementing additional threat detection software to stay as up to date as possible in cybersecurity.
Waggoner says that her office has third party individual network support for their systems, so even the office email is protected as much as possible from threats.
“Maybe twice a day I receive an email from our support person with that company that shows me emails that they have detected that could possibly be a threat, and do I know any of these emails coming through. And if I ever have a question I can call him, and he will look at it and say it’s good or that we need to get rid of it.
So really between the support tech and working with the Cyber Navigators, I don’t think that anyone in Morgan County has anything to worry about.”
Waggoner says that she is very confident in her election system, office staff and election judges. She says although high technology security solutions have been implemented in her office, voters in Morgan County won’t see that level of technology when they go to the polls this year.
“I am holding off on going to electronic poll books in Morgan County just for the fact that once I don that, those all have to be hooked up to the internet. And what that means is that all of those poll books, would be connected to each other within Morgan County and back to my office.
So as I tell people, since nothing that I use on election day or election night is hooked up to the internet, basically the only way that we could have a glitch is if someone would actually walk up to any of my machines, open it up, take the memory card out and replace it with their own, and then screw it all back together. So with anywhere from six to ten election judges sitting at a precinct, the likely hood of that happening is zero. Because, as I said, I have full faith in all of my judges.”
Waggoner says that the County Clerk’s Office will be open for early voting from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, and will also be open Saturday February 15th from 9:00 am to noon. As well as Saturday March 14th, just ahead of election day on the 17th.