We use many computers in our daily business — ATMs, grocery scanners and more. Government uses computers to track our drivers’ licenses, calculate our property tax bills and more. But concerns about hacking focus only on the computers that count our votes. Ever wonder why that is? Voting machines are no riskier than any other computer. We insert a deposit into an ATM and expect the computer to credit the dollars to the right account. We insert a ballot into a voting machine and expect the computer to credit the votes to the right candidates. Before each election, Wisconsin’s clerks practice the same sort of safeguards that are routine elsewhere. Like bankers with their ATMs, they practice the best security they can. They test the equipment before putting it into use.
The critical difference comes at the end of the business day. Banks routinely check accuracy, and if an ATM credits even one deposit to the wrong account, the error is noticed and corrected. Grocery stores reconcile every one of their computerized cash registers at the end of every shift.
But on Election Night, if any voting machines credited votes to the wrong candidate, Wisconsin clerks wouldn’t notice. State law requires a few weeks of review, known as the “canvass,” after each election but our clerks don’t use this time to confirm that the computers identified the right winners.