Public concern about election hacking warrants upgraded security to restore confidence in ballot integrity, according to the Democratic challenger for Kane County Clerk. While the incumbent Republican isn’t opposed to security enhancements, he believes the hacking threat is overblown.
“There are security measures in place to make sure we have a safe, secure election, but the consensus of the research on the election machines we use is that they are vulnerable,” said challenger Nicolas “Nico” Jimenez during a Daily Herald editorial board interview. “We need to implement a rigorous auditing system so that you can take the ballots cast and compare them with the votes recorded and ensure things are matching up. You have to make sure you are being efficient and as accurate as you claim you are being.”
Jimenez said the county should return to a paper ballot system when the county’s current election machines are ready for replacement. He wants auditing of 10 percent of ballots per precinct to ensure accuracy and ballot integrity.
Incumbent Jack Cunningham, in his final re-election bid for the office, said all the county’s voting machines already have a paper backup. Federal election law requires a paper backup for all federal elections. And Illinois law already provides for a random audit of 5 percent of ballots cast, but he is open to increasing the audit to 10 percent.
Cunningham said Kane County’s elections are secure, and exiting security would identify any attempts to interfere with votes. He understands public fears stemming from the recent hacking of Illinois election data, but he said even that needs context to understand the viability of an outside threat.
“I’m disappointed in those hackers because the only information they got from the (Illinois) State Board (of Elections) was all public documents,” Cunningham said. “We’ve got to be concerned about it, but this hacking thing has now become a little harsh. As far as impacting the outcome of an election, I would say it is 99.8 percent impossible to do. As far as everybody who says Chicago is so crooked, and their elections are fixed, that’s a farce.”