Amid warnings that Russia will again try to meddle in U.S. elections in 2018, state officials are sizing up Wisconsin’s defenses — and saying past missteps must be avoided in working with national-security officials who can spot such threats. The state Elections Commission also hopes lawmakers will act on a request for more funding to hire three more staffers, including at least one position dedicated to election security. Russian government cyberactors unsuccessfully targeted Wisconsin election systems in July 2016 as part of a broader effort to interfere in U.S. elections, federal intelligence officials have concluded. The commission said Homeland Security didn’t notify it until September 2017, about 14 months later, that it believed the attempted cyberattacks came from hackers tied to the Russian government.
Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said the commission relies on its security partnerships with other agencies. At the state level, that’s the Division of Enterprise Technology, which provides IT services throughout state government. At the federal level, it’s the Department of Homeland Security.
“We’re going to be relying in large part on information we receive from (Homeland Security),” Thomsen said. “I’m hoping the glitches in communications that occurred in 2016 don’t occur again.”