Preparations underway to secure votes after election cyberattack

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Preparations are now underway to secure votes after summertime cyberattacks on state election databases in Illinois. (WLS)

ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
If you're keeping close watch, the Election Day polls open in a little less than 276 hours-in cyberspace that is a virtual eternity. In Illinois and Indiana and from coast-to-coast there is a layer of law enforcement keeping an eye on election preparations like never before.

"There's constant attacks, there have been constant attacks for the whole ten years we've had the system...it's been a minute by minute kind of siege," Ken Menzel, Illinois State Board of Elections, general counsel, said.

That is why last summer's hacking blitz on Illinois' election website came as no surprise to authorities.

But that infiltration of voter data in Illinois and a similar attack in Arizona have produced this "FBI Flash" warning that foreign hackers are targeting such computer systems as the November 8 election approaches.

The confidential FBI alert obtained by the ABC 7 I-Team, lays out details of various foreign IP addresses and a lot of techno-lingo such as Acunetix, query language and injection vulnerability.

The FBI Flash alert recommended that state election officials begin a series of specific security measures to lock-down their systems.

In Indiana, it was a low-tech problem that brought out a plain-clothes state trooper to the Board of Elections office-the man in the grey shirt seen working with election officials on securing registration records after thousands statewide were called into question.

Thursday at 10 p.m. the ABC7 I-Team will go inside Chicago's super-secret warehouse where voting equipment is being tested for the Election Day rollout.

"We know our reputation, we know what happened 56 years ago and we're going to make sure it doesn't happen again," Jim Allen, Chicago Board of Election commissioners, said.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ELECTION DAY VOTING

Federal authorities in Chicago will monitor the U.S. and local elections in Chicago and surrounding suburbs on Nov. 8, 2016.

The U.S. Attorney will operate a telephone hotline for candidates or the public to report complaints related to the voting process. Assistant U.S. Attorneys and other Office personnel will monitor the hotline and be available to respond to complaints as needed.

The hotline number, staffed on Election Day only, is (312) 469-6157.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The Chicago FBI Field Office phone number is (312) 421-6700.

According to federal prosecutors, U.S. laws protect against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. The laws also contains special protections for the rights of voters, and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. For example, actions of persons designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them, under the pretext that these are actions to uncover illegal voting may violate federal voting rights law.

Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice. Violations of federal voting rights statutes carry penalties ranging from one to ten years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can also be made directly to the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., by phone at (800) 253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by email at voting.section@usdoj.gov or by complaint form at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.

For information as to the location and hours of polling locations, Illinois residents are advised to contact the Illinois State Board of Elections by logging on to www.elections.il.gov or by calling (312) 814-6440.
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