A Wisconsin Elections Commission security official is expressing concern that outdated operating systems are being used by local elections clerks across the state, raising the prospect of foreign interference in Wisconsin’s elections ahead of the 2020 presidential race. In a memo, Election Security Lead Tony Bridges details how a number of local clerks are using Windows XP or Windows 7 on office computers to access the WisVote voter database. According to Bridges, failure to maintain an up-to-date operating system poses “a tremendous risk.” Security patches on Windows XP have not been supported since 2014, while Windows 7 will reach its end-of-life cycle in January 2020, meaning Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates. Bridges pointed to a recent cyberattack in Georgia that brought down systems across Jackson County and warned a similar attack could “dramatically impact voter confidence in the electoral process” in Wisconsin.Full Article: Beloit Daily News - Editorials, Capitol Report Outdated systems could affect state vote.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
A Wisconsin Elections Commission security official is expressing concern that outdated operating systems are being used by local elections clerks across the state, raising the prospect of foreign interference in Wisconsin’s elections ahead of the 2020 presidential race. In a memo, Election Security Lead Tony Bridges details how a number of local clerks are using Windows XP or Windows 7 on office computers to access the WisVote voter database. According to Bridges, failure to maintain an up-to-date operating system poses “a tremendous risk.” Security patches on Windows XP have not been supported since 2014, while Windows 7 will reach its end-of-life cycle in January 2020, meaning Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates. Bridges pointed to a recent cyberattack in Georgia that brought down systems across Jackson County and warned a similar attack could “dramatically impact voter confidence in the electoral process” in Wisconsin. “It could, for example, expose confidential information, prevent the timely distribution of absentee ballots, prevent the timely printing of poll books, disrupt communications with voters, expose voters to potential cyberattack, destroy digital records, prevent the display of election night results,” he wrote recently.Full Article: Outdated operating systems could affect Wisconsin elections | Opinion | hngnews.com.
Outdated Windows systems could impact election security in Wisconsin. Officials say the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) has started a pilot program to address concerns. The proposal, prepared by Election Security Lead Tony Bridges, cites concerns over aging computer systems. He states, “the strength or weakness of any one work station could affect the security of the entire state’s elections infrastructure.” Bridge then explained at least a handful of computers that access WisVote no longer receive security updates; that includes Windows XP which hasn’t been updated since 2014. WEC won’t specify which users are vulnerable due to privacy concerns. “We always want to be careful when we’re talking about elections security,” said WEC PIO Reid Magney. “We don’t want to divulge where there might be vulnerabilities in the system.”Full Article: Election security threats and the proposed solution - WXOW.
Wisconsin: Elections Commission votes to boost election security spending | Briana Reilly/The Cap Times
The Wisconsin Elections Commission has moved to bolster local election security efforts in light of concerns that some clerks’ use of outdated computer operating systems could open up the state to cyberattacks in future election cycles. The efforts, approved unanimously by the panel on Tuesday, aim to address potential vulnerabilities across the state, where some clerks are using out-of-date computer systems or failing to install software patches and updates, according to a memo released ahead of the meeting. Commission Chair Dean Knudson noted that while the panel has “hardened our defenses tremendously over recent years,” it’s important to continue identifying potential issues and addressing them. “This is about looking at what we can do to further strengthen our defenses,” the Republican appointee said. Commissioners Tuesday agreed to direct existing federal dollars to implement software to track the security levels of local elections officials’ computers, at a cost of up to $69,000, create a $30,000 emergency loan program to secure 25 devices that could be temporarily handed out to local clerks who aren’t able to comply with security protocols and take preliminary steps to hire a technical support position. The action came after WEC’s election security lead Tony Bridges detailed in a memo his concerns about local clerks’ use of outdated operating systems to access the WisVote database, the statewide voter registration and election management system, including Windows XP, where security patches haven’t been supported since 2014. Meanwhile, the memo also noted others are using Windows 7 to utilize the database, and Microsoft won’t be providing free security updates for it after mid-January 2020. Not maintaining a current operating system, Bridges’ memo states, “exposes the user to tremendous risk.” He referenced a recent incident in Georgia in which hackers orchestrated a ransomware attack using Ryuk on Jackson County systems, causing officials to pay $400,000 to regain access to their information. If systems in Wisconsin are similarly attacked, the memo said, confidential information could be exposed, digital records could be destroyed, election night results may not be displayable and absentee ballot distribution and poll book printing could be impacted, among other things.
Wisconsin: Election officials trying to address outdated equipment | Lawrence Andrea/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin elections officials are considering spending more than $800,000 to replace outdated equipment, update software and further address computer security as the state prepares for the 2020 presidential election. Among the proposals in a Wisconsin Elections Commission plan is to establish a program that would lend new computers to municipalities with outdated operating systems. More than 500 state elections system users are on computer systems that have reached the end of their life or will do so in the next six months, according to a commission memo. Some of these users have plans to update their systems, but the commission is proposing lending 250 devices to municipalities unable to replace them. The loans will be free and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The equipment is expected to cost up to $300,000. The commission staff knows “that at least a handful” of clerks are logging into the WisVote voter registration and election management system with operating systems that are no longer receiving security updates, according to the memo. It also notes that hundreds of clerks are using Microsoft Windows 7, which will stop providing free updates in January.Full Article: Wisconsin election officials trying to address outdated equipment.
Wisconsin: Expert: Many Wisconsin elections clerks use outdated systems | Todd Richmond/Associated Press
Hundreds of local clerks are using outdated computer systems or aren’t installing security patches, leaving Wisconsin’s election system vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks, state elections officials fear. Election officials across the country have stepped up efforts to block hackers from wreaking havoc during the 2020 contests after Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Congress has been warned that there could be more foreign interference next year, when Wisconsin is expected to be a presidential swing state again. But Wisconsin Elections Commission Election Security Lead Tony Bridges said in a memo to commissioners released Friday that some local clerks are still logging into the state election system using Windows XP or Windows 7. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014 and said it will stop providing free security updates for Windows 7 starting in January. Bridges wrote that it’s safe to assume a large percentage of clerks won’t upgrade before the deadline or pay for updates. Even clerks with current operating systems often fail to install security patches, he said. The failure to maintain current operating systems exposes state elections to tremendous risk, Bridges wrote. He pointed to an incident in March in which a ransomware variant called Ryuk shut down vital systems in Jackson County, Georgia, including computers supporting emergency dispatch. Ransomware is software designed to shut down computer systems or data until a ransom is paid.Full Article: Expert: Many Wisconsin elections clerks use outdated systems | | journaltimes.com.
On the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, computer security specialists from across the country descended on the DEFCON 26 Hacking Conference in Las Vegas. These “white hat” hackers sought to probe the security features of voting machines and election systems in an effort to identify weaknesses. The results were alarming to election security experts. Hackers at DEFCON’s Voting Village found that an 11-year old trained only in basic coding techniques was able to hack into a mock-up of Florida’s election results website and change its reported vote totals. Conference attendees were also able to identify a vote tabulation machine — the Election Systems & Software M650 — that could be hacked in under two minutes, or as the report says, “within the time it takes to vote.” In recent years, Wisconsin’s election security practices have come under scrutiny, most notably by Democrats in the U.S. House Administration Committee, who concluded in July 2018 that Wisconsin was one of the 18 states most vulnerable to cyber attacks on election infrastructure.Full Article: Election security bolstered by cybersecurity, other measures | Opinion | hngnews.com.
Two voting machine manufacturers are appealing a Wisconsin judge’s ruling allowing former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s experts to comment on their review of the state’s election software. Stein’s request for a recount of Wisconsin’s 2016 presidential election results grants her the right to review voting machines. The review hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it could reveal whether the devices were hacked.
Election security experts are watching a Wisconsin court case stemming from the 2016 presidential recount that could result in the first public conclusions on whether closely guarded ballot-counting machines were hacked or failed to perform. The key question at the heart of the case is whether former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be allowed to comment publicly on what her auditors find in a review of Wisconsin voting machines’ computer code. Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential election results in Wisconsin gives her the right to review the code under state law. All the parties involved must sign an agreement to keep propriety information confidential. The voting machines’ manufacturers argue that agreement should bar Stein’s group from making any conclusions or opinions about the machines’ performance public.Full Article: Review of Wisconsin voting machines could be made public :: WRAL.com.
Assembly Democrats are withdrawing from a lawsuit over Wisconsin’s election maps, leaving it to a group of liberal voters to continue the high-profile litigation. By pulling out of the case, the Assembly Democrats are avoiding turning over documents and answering detailed questions to back up their claims that election maps drawn to favor Republicans have hurt their ability to recruit candidates and raise money. Assembly Democrats are getting out of the lawsuit because they believe others are well-equipped to handle the case and they do not have the money to continue the costly litigation, their lead attorney, Lester Pines, said.Full Article: Wisconsin Democratic legislators withdraw from redistricting lawsuit.
With record turnout for the 2018 midterm election in Wisconsin, voting across the state went smoothly, according to a report released Thursday. But some issues were reported, including issues in Racine County. The report, compiled by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Election Protection group, found problems in voting to be site-specific and limited, while issues around accessible voting equipment, staffing levels and questions about separate addresses for IDs and voter registration were observed at similar levels to the 2016 presidential election. The League of Women Voters had 217 volunteer observers submit observations from 388 polling sites across the state, consisting of 331 urban polling locations, 57 rural locations, 31 locations with a student population and eight locations that served tribal communities.Full Article: State midterm report: Issues reported at Racine, other polls | Government and Politics | journaltimes.com.
A federal court will delay the date of the trial in Wisconsin’s partisan redistricting case until the U.S. Supreme Court decides two similar cases this summer, handing a partial legal victory to the Republican-controlled Legislature. The decision by the court to push the trial back from April to at least July, after the issuance of a decision in the two similar cases, is meant to prevent Wisconsin’s case from being tried twice. It is still possible Wisconsin’s political maps would be redrawn before the 2020 general election if the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the plaintiffs — several Democratic voters across the state along with the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.Full Article: Trial in Wisconsin redistricting case delayed until at least July | Local News | journaltimes.com.
Wisconsin: Judge eliminates early voting limits approved by GOP lawmakers during lame-duck session | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Moving swiftly, a federal judge on Thursday struck down limits on early voting that Republican lawmakers approved last month in a lame-duck session. In a five-page ruling, U.S. District Judge James Peterson concluded the new limits on early voting are invalid because they so closely mirror ones he struck down as unconstitutional in 2016. His decision also threw out parts of the lame-duck laws affecting IDs and other credentials that can be used for voting. “This is not a close question: the three challenged provisions are clearly inconsistent with the (2016) injunctions that the court has issued in this case,” Peterson wrote.Full Article: Wisconsin lame-duck lawsuit: Judge eliminates early voting limits.
Wisconsin: Jill Stein scores legal win against ‘gag rule’ for inspection of Wisconsin voting machines | Washington Examiner
The Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee Jill Stein declared victory Thursday in a legal fight over her effort to personally examine whether voting machines in Wisconsin were vulnerable to attacks. In a statement, Stein celebrated a Wisconsin court ruling against a “gag rule” sought by a top voting machine vendor hoping to ensure that she can not speak her mind about the result of an impending voting machines inspection. “If the voting machine corporations had their way, we’d be prohibited from disclosing our findings under penalty of law, even if we discovered evidence of problems that could have changed the outcome of the election,” Stein said. “The only reason for voting machine corporations to push for a gag rule was to prevent us from revealing any problems with their machines, which would threaten their ability to keep profiting off our elections,” she added. “It’s outrageous that we’ve had to go to court to argue that the integrity of our elections is more important than protecting corporations.”Full Article: Jill Stein scores legal win against 'gag rule' for inspection of Wisconsin voting machines.
The Republican-controlled state Assembly has requested a court halt proceedings in Wisconsin’s redistricting case pending U.S. Supreme Court action on similar cases from other states. Lawyers for the Assembly, which intervened in the case last fall, wrote to the court Monday saying two cases the Supreme Court agreed to hear on appeal present the same issues as Wisconsin’s Gill vs. Whitford case and that holding a trial would be unnecessary until the Supreme Court cases are resolved. “Proceeding before the Supreme Court issues its decisions would be an unnecessary waste of the Court’s and the parties’ time and resources,” the Assembly lawyers wrote.Full Article: Assembly Republicans ask court to halt proceedings in redistricting case | State News | kenoshanews.com.
Wisconsin: Vos won’t release $850,000 law firm contract in redistricting case | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos won’t make public a legal contract that will cost taxpayers $850,000, despite a state law meant to ensure government records are widely available. Advocates for open records say the Rochester Republican is in the wrong and must release a copy of the contract with the Chicago-based law firm Bartlit Beck. Assembly Republicans recently retained the firm to help defend the state in a long-running lawsuit over legislative district lines they drew in 2011 that have helped them win elections. Taxpayers have already spent more than $2 million in legal fees to draw and defend those maps. “They should just release the record. I mean, it’s clearly a public record and it should be automatic,” said Orville Seymer, field operations director of the conservative Citizens for Responsible Government and a member of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council’s board.Full Article: Vos won't release $850,000 law firm contract in redistricting case.
The fight over restricting early voting in Wisconsin returned to federal court Monday, three days after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a new limit passed during a lame-duck legislative session. A coalition of liberal groups, with the support of former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked a federal judge to block implementation of the early voting restrictions. The same judge in 2016 struck down a similar two-week early voting limitation as unconstitutional. Attorneys for the groups argued that Republicans called the lame-duck session “as part of a partisan attempt to retain and regain power” and the early voting limitation was “in direct violation” of the court’s 2016 order.Full Article: Wisconsin’s early voting limit challenged in federal court | The Seattle Times.
Wisconsin: ‘A reason to stand up’: Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote | The Guardian
The Milwaukee pastor Greg Lewis spent weeks before the November midterms working to get out the vote. Through the Souls to the Polls program, Lewis and other Milwaukee church officials educated members of the community about their voting rights, ensured they were registered and had proper documentation, and got them to polling places to cast their votes – sometimes encouraging them directly from the pews to the polls. It was exhausting work, Lewis said, but necessary to make sure members of the city’s “overlooked” and “underserved” African American community were able to make their voices heard. “People are tired of being abused and misused, and others are tired of seeing those people abused and misused,” said Lewis, a minister at St Gabriel’s Church of God in Christ on the city’s north side. “And we really came together.”Full Article: 'A reason to stand up': Wisconsin activists fight threat to African American vote | US news | The Guardian.
Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans are claiming lame-duck legislation would make early voting uniform across the state — a contention that was rejected by a federal judge two years ago. That same judge is expected to weigh in on the matter again if Walker signs the early voting restrictions in the coming weeks. Republican lawmakers included the early-voting limits in lame-duck legislation they sent to Walker last week that would also curb the powers of Walker’s Democratic successor, Tony Evers, and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Wisconsin had a record round of early voting for a midterm election last month, helping Democrats win every statewide office. The legislation would limit early voting to a maximum of two weeks.Full Article: New limits on Wisconsin early voting resemble ones judge threw out.
Wisconsin Democrats scored a huge win when Tony Evers captured the governor’s office last month. But an even bigger fight is looming as Republican lawmakers prepare to redraw legislative boundaries, stirring fears among Democrats that their rivals could take unprecedented steps to remove Evers from the process. State law requires legislators to redraw the boundaries every 10 years to reflect population changes. It’s a high-stakes task since the party in control can craft maps that consolidate their power and lock in their majority for years. The last time lawmakers drew new boundaries was in 2011, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Assembly and governor’s office. A federal judicial panel invalidated the Assembly districts as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that in June and sent the case back to the lower court to establish whether there was harm to particular voters. A new trial is set for April.Full Article: Wisconsin Democrats fear GOP redistricting end-around.