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State Board of Elections executive director claims to be victim of extortion attempt

“At this time, there is no reason to believe that any election data or information has been compromised,” the ISBE said.
In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 photo, voters cast their ballots during early voting in...
In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 photo, voters cast their ballots during early voting in Chicago while wearing protective gloves. Residents and poll workers took extra precautions amid concerns over the coronavirus. The Illinois state primary elections are scheduled for Tuesday, March 17. (Source: AP Photo/Noreen Nasir/AP)
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Eight members of the Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to place Executive Director Steve Sandvoss on administrative leave after he reported being the victim of an online extortion attempt last week.

According to an announcement by the board on Monday, Sandvoss reported the attempt to the Illinois State Police, which has begun an investigation. Based on Director Sandvoss’ description, the attempted extortion scheme appeared typical of many such online scams, according to the announcement.

“However, because this attempt targeted a top official at the Illinois State Board of Elections, and out of an abundance of caution, the board has taken the cautionary step of placing Director Sandvoss on administrative leave. The board authorized Assistant Executive Director Bernadette Matthews to assume directorship at this time,” the Illinois State Board of Elections said.

The board also authorized the agency’s Chief Information Security Officer, Jeremy Owens, to cooperate fully with the law enforcement investigation, as well as conduct an internal assessment of all SBE devices to which Director Sandvoss had access and ensure the security of the board’s systems, according to the ISBE.

“At this time, there is no reason to believe that any election data or information has been compromised,” the ISBE said.

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