Editorials

Russia hacks Illinois voter records. Is democracy safe? Nyet.

Are Illinois voter records safe from Russian hackers? Recent history says "nyet."
Are Illinois voter records safe from Russian hackers? Recent history says "nyet." bweisenstein@bnd.com

We previously learned that the Russians tried to infiltrate 20 state election systems ahead of the 2016 presidential election. But now we know it was 21, and that Illinois was the only state to admit actually being breached.

Illinois State Board of Elections computers were hacked and the Russians got at 76,000 voter records. They didn't do anything, that we can tell, but they did it and are likely a few clicks away from all 8 million Illinois voters.

The point of hacking voter records would be to change something, such as scrambling a few numbers in an address, so that voters might be challenged at the polls. Word would spread and people would wait in long lines or become suspicious and not bother voting. The tactic would be voter suppression, something that America for a century turned into a sharp weapon against black voters.

Robert Mueller is special counsel for the Department of Justice. He oversees the investigation into Russia's possible connections to the 2016 election and Trump campaign.

Just guessing, but maybe Vlad didn't bother with us because his Cambridge Analytica data from your Facebook account showed there was no way to create enough mayhem at the polls to push Illinois out of the blue state column. Better to concentrate on Florida.

Most Illinois voting systems are a decade old, dating to the last big federal dollar dump of $147 million. There is another federal grant coming, but it is only $13 million. Last time Illinois alone got half of what Congress allocated for the entire nation this time.

We go to war to protect democracy. Service members have died to protect democracy. If Russia is conducting cyberwarfare against our most basic right as Americans, we need to defend ourselves.

We just made it a defense priority to spend $4.1 billion on 110 of Boeing's F/A 18 Super Hornet fighter jets. Cut the order to 100, and you have enough money to double the national commitment to securing our polls.

Added bonus, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin gets to play hawk for two photo ops — one next to a Navy fighter jet, and one next to an armored network server.

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