The state Elections Commission outlined initial plans Wednesday to use $7 million in federal funds to thwart hackers and boost election security by hiring workers, training clerks and upgrading software. The commissioners unanimously signed off on the framework of the plan and asked Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to approve it. Department of Administration spokesman Steven Michels said the administration is inclined to grant permission to accept the federal cash. The move to tighten election security comes almost two years after Russian agents targeted election systems around the country, according to federal officials. In the summer of 2016, Russian government actors tried unsuccessfully to gain access to a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development system as they scanned for vulnerabilities they could exploit at the Elections Commission, according to those officials.
Amid the national hacking concerns, Congress in March approved $380 million for states.
Much of the $7 million allocated for Wisconsin is expected to be used eventually for additional workers at the Elections Commission, but commission Director Meagan Wolfe wrote in a memo that her staff needs time to determine how many to recommend hiring. Commissioners have been united in saying they need at least three more workers and are considering hiring as many as six.