FILE - U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis 9-5-18

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, speaks at a House committee hearing on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.

The leaders of the three largest elections software companies in the U.S. testified before Congress on Thursday about the steps they’re taking to ensure the security of the 2020 election process, and joining them was an election official from Illinois who testified at the request of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis.

There are more than 350,000 voting machines in use across the country. Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic service more than 80 percent of them, lawmakers said. The Committee on House Administration, which Davis is the ranking Republican, held a Thursday hearing titled “2020 Election Security – Perspectives from Voting System Vendors and Experts” to explore what’s being done before what many have predicted will be one of the more contentious general elections in decades.

Lawmakers said they had concerns about the lack of federal regulations on voting systems.

“There are more regulations for ballpoint pens and magic markers than there are for voting systems and our election infrastructure,” said Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, quoting another who testified in another hearing on the topic. 

Davis said regulations on election equipment were outdated. 

“It’s time to modernize these laws again and incentivize new and more secure infrastructure development,” he said. 

The elections system owners were peppered with questions about their machines, where their parts come from, and reports about the digital elections machines having internet connectivity, which is seen as a security weakness. All three echoed each other in their devotion to making sure the integrity of the election process was secure. 

“It is what every one of our employees wakes up and goes to bed thinking about,” said Tom Burt, president of Omaha-based Election Systems & Software. “For us, every single day is election day.”

Davis asked Christian County Clerk and Recorder Mike Gianasi to testify about his experiences upholding election security. One of his biggest challenges, Gianasi said, was staffing election judges.

“It is very difficult to always staff my election judges adequately, but I do what I can,” Gianasi told the committee. 

Illinois officials acknowledged that the State Board of Elections experienced a data breach that compromised 76,000 voters’ personal information, but didn’t change any votes.

The U.S. government has sent states more than $500 million over the last two years to help shore up election security.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.