A government computer system crash caused headaches for Wisconsin election clerks trying to access voter registration information on Friday, the last day residents could turn in absentee ballots. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin elections, said it also received calls from a handful of residents who said they couldn’t obtain a driver’s license or state identification card. Residents will be required to show a photo ID before voting during Tuesday’s primary elections. The GAB said the outage lasted roughly three hours, beginning at 8:45 a.m. The state Department of Transportation said it wasn’t clear how many people weren’t able to get IDs because of the computer problems. GAB attorney Mike Hass said his agency received several calls about the outage, but said only a handful of people were affected.
County and municipal clerks couldn’t access poll books or the state’s voter registration system during the outage. They still conducted absentee voting but efforts were delayed because they couldn’t immediately verify voters’ registration information, the GAB said in a news release.
Department of Administration spokesman Jim Dick released a statement saying a hardware problem slowed the state network to the point where it couldn’t communicate with state agencies, but details weren’t provided.
Democratic lawmakers pounced on the outage, using it as another opportunity to blast the Republican-authored law that requires voters to show photo IDs at the polls. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha said it was outrageous that the state’s system went down on the second-to-last business day before the election. He called for a full investigation.