Illinois Election Board chief Steve Sandvoss on leave after extortion bid

The Illinois State Board of Elections has voted unanimously to place its executive director on paid administrative leave after he reported being the target of an online extortion attempt.

The eight members of the board took the action involving Steve Sandvoss "out of an abundance of caution," the panel said in a news release Monday.

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


Sandvoss, a Rochester lawyer who has led the state agency since 2015, reported the extortion attempt occurred last week, it said.

He informed the Illinois State Police, which has begun an investigation, it said.

The board named Assistant Executive Director Bernadette Matthews to be acting director.

The election board is an independent state agency consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans.

State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich would not elaborate beyond the news release and directed questions to the Illinois State Police.