The Latest: Elections panel scales back clerk loaner program

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s efforts to improve election security (all times local):

11:35 a.m.

The state Elections Commission has scaled back a plan to loan local clerks secure computers.

Commission staff has warned the panel that scores of clerks are using outdated computer systems or aren’t installing security patches, leaving their local election data and Wisconsin’s election system vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks.

The staff recommended buying software that can tests clerks’ vulnerabilities remotely, loaning clerks 250 up-to-date computers at a cost of up to $300,000 and creating a new position to provide technical support for the loaner program.

The commission voted Tuesday to purchase the software to test clerk vulnerabilities at a cost of up to $69,000 annually. The panel voted to spend only $30,000 on 25 loaner computers, however, amid concerns that the commission doesn’t have a firm grasp of how many clerks actually need them. The commission ordered staff to get the vulnerability-testing software in place and deliver findings from that effort at the panel’s Sept. 24 meeting.

The commission unanimously authorized staff to begin setting up the technical support position but to obtain commission permission before posting the position.

A federal grant will cover funding for all the initiatives.

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8:30 a.m.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission will consider spending up to $810,000 to upgrade local clerks’ computer security and launch an outreach program to dispel myths about election security.

The commission’s staff has warned the panel that scores of clerks use outdated computer systems or aren’t installing security patches, leaving Wisconsin’s election system vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks.

The staff has recommended buying software that can test clerks’ vulnerabilities remotely, loaning clerks up-to-date computers and creating a new position to provide technical support for clerks. The staff also has proposed hiring Madison-based advertising firm KW2 to inform people about election security upgrades and dispel common misconceptions about ballot security and tallying.

The commission is set to consider the proposals Tuesday.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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