The Livingston County Information and Technology Committee received an update on the status of phone system upgrades and budgetary information from Jon Sear, the county’s network and computer systems administrator, at its meeting Tuesday evening.
    Of note from his monthly report was Sear’s mentioning of a conference he had attended that discussed statewide voting system upgrades, which led the committee to then deliberate among themselves about issues concerning election integrity.
    The computer systems administrator said he attended a cybersecurity conference hosted by the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders with County Clerk Kristy Masching last month, with the primary topic of discussion being the security of electronic voting.
    “It was rather interesting to see … what they’re watching for for election fraud and people trying to hack into election systems,” he said.
    Committee member John Slagel asked Sear if there was any discussion at the conference about the prospect of getting rid of electronics as it concerned voting, to which the network administrator said that there was not.
    “No, the main thing that they were talking about was trying to secure the electronic voting,” he said. “The problem with us is that we’re doing a mixture of paper and electronic (voting), and the electronic that we have is becoming pretty much obsolete, so we’re trying to upgrade that software. Kristy has a capital (request) for next year to get that replaced, so that will be a ‘fun’ project.
    “They were joking around about going back to paper, but that won’t happen.”
    “It seems silly not to,” Slagel replied.
    “It’s always something, John,” added committee member Marty Fannin. “It could be a hanging chad.”
    Since some members were not familiar with the reference to the controversial issue pertaining to the 2000 presidential election, in which a number of paper ballots cast in Florida were not counted because of incomplete punches that left the paper fragments, or chads, still attached, so the committee spent several minutes of the meeting reminiscing about it.
    Before his report, Sear told the committee that he had not made any new capital requests for the upcoming fiscal year budget. He also gave a constructive update on the phone system upgrades that he’s been working on for some months.
    “We’ve got all the phones in, we’ve got the phone systems up and running, we’re doing training Thursday here, at the Law and Justice Center and at the sheriff’s department,” he said. “We’re hoping to switch (over) downtown (next) Monday or Tuesday. If that goes well, the next day we can switch the sheriff’s department.”
    The big topic of discussion at last month’s Information and Technology Committee was the possibility of broadcasting all of the committee meetings; however, it did not appear as an agenda item on Tuesday night’s meeting agenda and was not discussed again in public comment.