* The information provided below is compiled from various independent organizations working on election defense. US BASE cannot verify the accuracy of all data. Additionally we cannot vet every state or local organization working on election defense.
Wisconsin Technology in Use
Verified Voting Foundation
* Note that "Paper Ballot" in the map below typically designates paper ballots counted by an electronic scanning device.
Center for American Progress State by State Voting System Report
See State Grade Below
"In August 2017, the Center for American Progress released a report entitled “9 Solutions for Securing America’s Elections,” laying out nine vulnerabilities in election infrastructure and solutions to help improve election security in time for the 2018 and 2020 elections. This report builds on that analysis to provide an overview of election security and preparedness in each state, looking specifically at state requirements and practices related to:
1. Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
2. Voter-verified paper ballots
3. Post-election audits that test election results
4. Ballot accounting and reconciliation
5. Return of voted paper absentee ballots
6. Voting machine certification requirements
7. Pre-election logic and accuracy testing
This report provides an overview of state compliance with baseline standards to protect their elections from hacking and machine malfunction. Some experts may contend that additional standards, beyond those mentioned here, should be required of states to improve election security. The chief purpose of this report is to provide information on how states are faring in meeting even the minimum standards necessary to help secure their elections.
It is important to note at the outset that this report is not meant to be comprehensive of all practices that touch on issues of election security. We recognize that local jurisdictions sometimes have different or supplemental requirements and proce- dures from those required by the state. However, this report only considers state requirements reflected in statutes and regulations and does not include the more granular—and voluminous—information on more localized practices. Furthermore, this report does not address specific information technology (IT) requirements for voting machine hardware, software, or the design of pre-election testing ballots and system programming. And while we consider some minimum cybersecurity best practices, we do not analyze specific cyberinfrastructure or system programming requirements. These technical standards and protocols deserve analysis by computer scientists and IT professionals who have the necessary expertise to adequately assess the sufficiency of state requirements in those specialized areas."
Wisconsin adheres to minimum cybersecurity best practices related to voter registration systems and conducts its elections using paper ballots and voting machines that provide a paper record. But the state’s failure to carry out post-election audits that test the accuracy of election outcomes leaves the state open to undetected hacking and other Election Day problems.
Wisconsin’s post-election audits are not designed to confirm the accuracy of election outcomes but rather to test the proper functioning of voting machines and other election processes. Audits often occur after certification of official election results, and the results have no bearing on election outcomes even if an error is found to have occurred.
Some counties have asked the Wisconsin Elections Commission to allow them to carry out audits prior to certification. While the commission has granted permission, conducting audits prior to certification is still not required. The state’s ballot accounting and reconciliation procedures also need improvement.
Wisconsin did earn points for prohibiting voters stationed or living overseas from returning voted ballots electronically, a practice that election security experts say is notoriously insecure. In Wisconsin, all voted ballots are returned by mail or delivered in person.
The state also exercises good practices by requiring that all voting machines be tested to EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines before being purchased or used in the state, and by requiring election officials to carry out pre-election logic and accuracy testing on all voting machines that will be used in an upcoming election.
To protect its elections against potential attack by sophisticated nation-states seeking to interfere in U.S. elections, Wisconsin should adopt robust post-election audits that have binding effect on election results. Audits must be comprehensive enough to confirm—with a high degree of confidence—the accuracy of election outcomes. In making these changes, Wisconsin should look to risk-limiting audits like those in Colorado as a potential model. Wisconsin should also strengthen its ballot accounting and reconciliation procedures by disallowing the practice of discarding randomly selected excess ballots when discrepancies arise.
Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration system: Good
The state’s voter registration system was completely revamped and upgraded in 2016.
The state’s voter registration system provides access control to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to the database.
The state’s voter registration system has logging capabilities to track modifications to the database.
• The state’s voter registration system includes an intrusion detection system that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic for irregularities.
The state performs regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing on its voter registration system.
The state has enlisted either the National Guard or DHS to help assess and identify potential threats to its voter registration system.
State election officials are required to complete cybersecurity training and are kept informed of any election-specific cybersecurity issues or developments as they arise.1614 The state will expand cybersecurity training to local election officials as part of the comprehensive election security plan that the state is currently developing for the 2018 elections.
Wisconsin permits but does not currently use electronic poll books.1616 The state is in the process of developing electronic poll book software that will be make them available as an option for municipalities to use prior to the 2018 fall elections.1617 In the future, when electronic poll books are used, the state plans to make paper copies of voter registration lists available at polling places as a backup in case of system failure or hacking. Because Wisconsin does not yet use electronic poll books, the state was not graded on e-pollbook best practices.
Voter-verified paper audit trail: Fair
Depending on the jurisdiction, some voters in Wisconsin cast paper ballots, while others vote using DRE machines with VVPR.
Post-election audits: Unsatisfactory
The state conducts mandatory post-election audits, but only for general elections. The purpose of these audits is to determine whether voting machines functioned properly during voting periods, not to verify the accuracy of election outcomes.
The state’s post-election audits are conducted through manual hand count.
Audits are conducted on a minimum of 100 voting machines across the state. An audit must include at least five machines for each voting system model used in the state. Four ballot contests are audited, including the top-of-the-ticket race, either presidential or gubernatorial. The three other audited races are selected at random after the election.
The voting machines included in the audit are selected randomly.
All categories of ballots—regular, early voting, absentee, provisional, and UOCAVA ballots—are eligible for auditing.
Any discrepancy is resolved by the municipal clerks. The law is silent on whether an audit escalates in the event that preliminary outcomes are found to be incorrect.
Audits are open to the public.
• The state’s auditing process has traditionally taken place within two weeks after certification, which typically lands around December 15 in election years. However, in response to requests by municipal officials, the State Elections Commission has said that it will permit municipalities to begin conducting post-election audits prior to certification. An estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of all post-election audits in Wisconsin were carried out prior to the state certification deadline after the 2016 election.
• An audit cannot reverse the preliminary outcome of an audited contest if an error is detected.
Ballot accounting and reconciliation: Unsatisfactory
All ballots are accounted for at the precinct level.
Municipalities are required to compare and reconcile the number of ballots with the number of voters who signed in at the polling place. However, part of the reconciliation process may involve randomly removing excess ballots.Precinct totals are generated at the county level by central counting station personnel who generate precinct returns and develop the unofficial totals from those returns. The central counting station personnel compare the precinct returns to the corresponding tally list.
Counties are required to compare and reconcile municipal totals with countywide results to ensure that they add up to the correct amount.There is no statutorily mandated review process to ensure that all voting machine memory cards have been properly loaded onto the tally server at the county level. However, the state’s electronic Canvass Reporting System will alert election officials if zero votes appear for any candidates or ballot measures.
While state law requires that election results be made public, it is unclear whether the same is true of information regarding ballot reconciliation processes and results. Reconciliation procedures are outlined in the state published guidance for poll workers, as well as on its website. However, they are not required to be posted publicly. That said, canvass boards are required to keep minutes, which are public records and are available after the fact to document what specific reconciliation procedures were used and how any discrepancies were resolved.
Paper absentee ballots: Fair
The state does not permit voters—including UOCAVA voters—to submit completed ballots electronically. All ballots must be returned by mail or delivered in person.
Voting machine certification requirements: Fair
• The state removed the statutory requirement that all voting machines must be EAC-certified prior to purchase or use. In practice, however, all voting machines currently in use are EAC-certified.
Some jurisdictions in the state likely still use voting machines that were purchased more than a decade ago.
Pre-election logic and accuracy testing: Fair
Election officials conduct mandatory logic and accuracy testing on all voting machines prior to an election.
Testing is open to the public.
Testing occurs within 10 days before the election.