The head of Wisconsin elections wants the Legislature to approve hiring three additional staff, with two focused on bolstering security following news that the state’s voting systems were targeted by Russian hackers. A 28 percent reduction in staff since 2015 weakened the ability of elections workers to address voter safety and eroded fulfilling all other state and federal law requirements, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas said in a memo released Friday. “The agency for an extended period of time has been operating with less than optimal staffing,” Haas said in an interview. “We are falling behind with just our regular day-to-day responsibilities so we can be prepared for the 2018 election.”
The commission is meeting Monday to vote on whether to ask the Legislature to pass a bill authorizing the hiring of three additional staff, along with hiring more temporary workers, at a cost of about $452,000 over the next two years.
Two of the staff the commission wants to hire would be focused on election security issues, while a third would work on educating voters about such things as Wisconsin’s voter identification requirement.
The call for more staff comes after Gov. Scott Walker signed a state budget in September that cut six Elections Commission positions. The Legislature had asked that five positions be funded, but Walker vetoed them. Since 2015, the commission’s staff has been reduced from nearly 36 to nearly 26, a 28 percent cut.