BELLEVILLE, Ill — Illinois officials are trying to make sure that voting is safer than ever.

The extra measures come after foreign hackers compromised our election security four years ago.

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In 2016, Russian hackers breached Illinois's state election system and stole the information of 76,000 voters.

As we're inching closer to the Primary Election in March, the Illinois State Board of Elections said they want to ensure voters that the is safer than ever as they head to the polls.

St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook said security has beefed up through a Cyber Navigator Program in the time since that intrusion.

"It's our multi-faceted program that looks everything from actual election equipment to the counting ballots on election day to transferring all the information. We've increased our security measures by two- and three-fold," Holbrook said.

The members of the program range from the Department of Homeland Security to the FBI.

The voting machines in St. Clair County are also wired in a specific way to not get hacked. 

"Even though they are computers, they're offline. There's no way you can hack these online at all," Holbrook said. 

Voting in Illinois

Just last week though, the Illinois State Auditor released a report saying the State Board of Elections had "not implemented adequate internal controls related to cybersecurity programs and practices".

But Holbrook said security has increased more than ever. 

"We’re at a higher degree of security than we’ve ever been. I think that now the state and federal government both realized it has become an object of intrusion by foreign governments, they have really raised the level of security," he said.

The state board of elections responded to the auditor report saying:

The “internal controls” mentioned in the audit pertain to our documentation of cybersecurity measures, not our overall security against cyberattacks. We don’t dispute that finding but we believe were are employing the best possible cybersecurity practices to ensure the safety of our network and ensure that an attack like the one here in 2016 does not happen again.

The Primary Election for Illinois is on March 17, 2020.

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