Secure elections, Chicago style

The City of Chicago teamed up with Verizon to help deliver secure elections in the midst of a pandemic.

  • "With Verizon’s solution, we are not touching the Internet at all, so a lot of those boundaries that we had to historically protect are completely eliminated now."

    — Rahul Patel, Elections Information Security Officer, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners

  • Challenge

    The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago ("Board") planned to debut a brand new voting system at over 2,000 precincts across 230 miles for their upcoming presidential primary election, scheduled for March 17, 2020.  Providing secure electronic elections demanded that the Board:

    • Protect the integrity of voter choices on a digital ballot
    • Guard against hacks and cyberattacks when those choices were electronically transmitted across the network
    • Ensure that every vote was accurately counted and accounted for

    Then, six days before the election, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Suddenly, the bar for achieving secure electronic elections across multiple voting sites became that much higher.

    Download the case study
  • Solution

    The Board migrated to an all-Verizon redundant circuit model designed to segment traffic into three distinct data groups: touchscreens and scanners, electronic poll books, and employee communication. Verizon’s end-to-end private network solution included:

    • 2,200 activations of 4G LTE modems
    • 1 private wireless gateway
    • 2 geo-diverse 1-Gig burstable IP circuits
    • 1 dedicated VPN circuit
    • Partner-based secured routers & firewalls
    • Professional and Managed Network Services
  • Outcome

    With a private and robust election network infrastructure and personnel support, the Board was able to quickly, efficiently, and securely complete their elections according to plan.

    • Scanned ballots and results took only 5-10 minutes to transmit after polls closed.
    • By 11:00 pm on election night, already 90% of polling places had reported results. 
    • Voter turnout in Chicago was 9 percentage points above the state average.*

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* Source for the state of Illinois turnout:
Source for the Chicago voter turnout: