- Associated Press - Sunday, February 15, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois’ plan to join a national voter registration database in 2016 has raised questions about potential security issues and consequences if the program is hacked.

The state will become part of the Electronic Registration Information Center program under a plan former Gov. Pat Quinn signed shortly before leaving office. It is part of a more comprehensive election law allowing same-day voter registration, among other things.

Roughly a dozen states use the program, known as ERIC, to make registration more cost efficient, help find eligible voters and clean rolls.

But experts say it could be vulnerable.

Tom Imboden, a Southern Illinois University professor of information systems technologies, told The Springfield Bureau of Lee Enterprises (https://bit.ly/178GicU ), that it’ll be hard to pinpoint who’s responsible if there’s a hack. He said there are also issues with requiring states to use it.

“The big thing, in terms of security, is that these are databases that people don’t have any way of opting out from it. Like Facebook, you just chose not to use it,” he said. “It’s a privacy concern.”

Officials with Washington, D.C.-based ERIC said they have a strong security system. ERIC is a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors who come from member states.

“We make a pretty good argument that we do more to protect the data than the states do themselves,” said executive director John Lindback. “We follow above normal security protocols.”

So far, officials in the program started by states in 2012 haven’t had complaints. Officials in Maryland, Nevada and Utah said the system works well. In Washington, Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons called it useful.

“We do believe that it’s helping us to clean our rolls,” Ammons said.

In Illinois, the program is expected to cost about $1 million each year.

Illinois State Board of Elections officials said the money hasn’t yet been allocated. More details are expected when Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his budget speech later this week.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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