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.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
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.
More communities are taking part in audits of voting equipment in Wisconsin this year. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is requiring audits of voting equipment in 5 percent of the state’s wards and at least one in every county. Commission spokesman Reid Magney said audits were expanded due to concerns over election security. “There are a number of national groups that have determined post-election audits are a best practice, that states should be verifying the results of elections before they’re certified,” said Magney. “Our commission has taken that to heart and used an existing audit that we already do to start meeting that best practice.” For the first time this year, the audits must be completed before the state certifies election results next month.Full Article: Expanded Audits Of Wisconsin Voting Equipment Underway | Wisconsin Public Radio.
Clerks across our state are in the middle of a renewed effort to ensure Wisconsin’s elections are accurate and secure. For the first time this year, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is asking more clerks — at least one in every county — to hand count a select amount of ballots and compare results to what machines counted. While there’s not been an issue with inaccuracy, they hope this lets voters see that for themselves. In the Green Bay City Clerk’s office, the audit begins at promptly 9:00 a.m. Staff take out ballots cast in two east-side wards and hand count the results — twice. They’re then compared to the results machines tabulated on election night.Full Article: Hand count underway to 'ensure integrity' of Wisconsin elections.
Election officials have ordered hand counts of paper ballots from 5 percent of the state’s voting machines in an effort to audit the accuracy of Election Day results. Currently, election officials only check to verify that the number of paper ballots cast matches the number counted by the machines. But, in 2006, the state adopted a law requiring officials to ascertain whether the actual candidates selected on paper ballots corresponds with the machine count of votes for those candidates. In the past, the state has ignored that law. But questions raised by Russian interference in the 2016 elections prompted the Wisconsin Election Commission to take a step toward compliance with the law, said Karen McKim, the coordinator of Wisconsin Election Integrity, a bipartisan nonprofit group that advocates for fair elections. She praised the election commission for taking the step.Full Article: Wisconsin Election Commission orders hand counts of paper ballots | News | wisconsingazette.com.
Wisconsin: Elections Commission shuts down dormant file sharing service after reporter inquiry | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
State elections officials eliminated an unused, password-protected file sharing service to further protect the state’s election system from hackers. The move came after a reporter with the nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica inquired about whether the service was susceptible to hacking, according to Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney. The organization’s scrutiny of the security of Wisconsin’s election system comes days before Tuesday’s midterm elections and amid concerns that the Russian-based interference in the 2016 general election could return this year. In the 2016 election, Russians attempted to hack elections systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states ahead of the presidential election.Full Article: Wisconsin Elections Commission shuts down dormant file sharing service after reporter inquiry.
At the founding of the United States, the right to vote belonged to a privileged few. White, male, property owners were the only people directly steering the fate of this nation. It took significant struggles to change that. The Civil War, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement were just pieces of the complex web of events that gave most adult U.S. citizens the right to vote. But progress isn’t always linear. There have been significant efforts to suppress the voting population over the last two decades. Gerrymandering, restrictive voter ID laws, and purged voter rolls have all led to the disenfranchisement of many citizens. Carol Anderson is the author of, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy chronicles the history of voter suppression in the U.S. and the ways that modern politicians are trying to suppress the vote in states throughout the country. Wisconsin plays a starring role in the book. “There are a couple of ground zeros for this and Wisconsin, unfortunately, is one of them,” says Anderson.Full Article: 'One Person, No Vote' Highlights Impact Of Voter Suppression Laws | WUWM.
Wisconsin officials were praised Friday by election-security advocates for expanding the state’s use of post-election audits. The Wisconsin Elections Commission announced that it voted unanimously Tuesday to require audits in 5 percent of precincts throughout the state after every vote, beginning with the Nov. 6 general election. The decision is evidence that the clock has not run out yet on states seeking to improve their ballot-security procedures before Election Day, said representatives of Verified Voting, which advocates for paper-based voting systems and Public Citizen, a consumers’ rights group. Under Wisconsin’s new system, election officials will randomly select at least 183, or 5 percent, of the state’s 3,660 precincts to review voting equipment. The audit sample will include at least one precinct from each of the state’s 72 counties, but no more than two precincts from any single municipality.Full Article: Wisconsin expands use of post-election audits.