CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four weeks from next Tuesday, the polls will open. The voting machines are ready in Chicago and downstate, and authorities have prepped their "war room" for that night in Springfield. That is where a force of top IT investigators will be backed up by law enforcement and a special military unit poised to respond if there is an attack on the election infrastructure here.
In a new public service announcement, the FBI is strongly playing down any notion of a foreign cyberattack poised for November 8.
When voters line up on Election Day, and when they stand side-by-side in Illinois' 108 election zones, only one thing matters to most: when their ballot is slipped into the machine, it ends up being counted. It may the greatest public trust; in recent years challenged by false narratives that the process is flawed, the count not to be trusted and the equipment part of some grand conspiracy.
The FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity Agency say no compromise of the election system has been detected and any large scale disruptions are unlikely to prevent or affect voting next month. It is a hardline message being underscored by Illinois authorities, who in 2016 had to fend off a Russian attack on the state's voter database, resulting in the theft of personal information for a half million Illinois registered voters.
I-Team Insider: Election War Room
"The kinds of attacks that can be done remotely to government systems are not going to reach, let's say, a voting tabulator in a polling place. Because all that equipment is never on the internet. It's never vulnerable to these kinds of remote cyber-attacks," Matt Dietrich with the Illinois State Board of Elections told the I-Team. "This idea of questioning the integrity of the election system is fairly recent. And in prior elections, before this came in, it was not a question of, you know, is it rigged?"
Even as the military now backs up Illinois election security efforts, authorities here say they are more concerned about a homegrown threat.
"We're looking for disinformation that's put deliberately on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever, to misinformed voters to tell them incorrect information," said Dietrich.
Before the election war room is fired up, authorities have one piece of advice for skeptics: visit what is known as "The Public Test," a week before Election Day. Local voting officials will display equipment and calibrate it. They say this is transparency aimed at ending the falsehoods.