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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.

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.*

How We Built This Solution

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* Source for the state of Illinois turnout: https://bit.ly/3hLm7pD
Source for the Chicago voter turnout: https://bit.ly/2OlvsbN