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Election security a priority heading into 2020

The city of Mary Esther in Okaloosa County held a special municipal election Tuesday, June 4....
The city of Mary Esther in Okaloosa County held a special municipal election Tuesday, June 4. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Oct. 17, 2019 at 10:27 PM CDT
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This week a new committee met in Madison for the first time, the Wisconsin Election Security Council.

"The security council is just that, it is to talk about election security in general. So any kind of security questions on procedures, some misinformation is usually the case with social media as we know it today," said State Senator Kathy Bernier, who is also a member of the new council.

In Eau Claire County, officials are constantly working to upgrade technology and security for their elections.

"We're getting our equipment, like I said, switched over to 4G. We'll also be buying that router for that private network, we bought an extra firewall in case our firewall would go out on election night. So we're trying to do some emergency planning also," said Eau Claire County Clerk Janet Loomis.

In Wisconsin, the standard protocol is to not connect an election computer to any network while votes are being cast.

Once the polls close, ballots are counted on-site and then those computers are briefly connected electronically to Wisconsin's clerk's offices.

"The average person doesn't know what we have in place and so we want to create a group to let people know that we are taking every precaution for security because in this day and age, as you know, things change rapidly," said Bernier.

At the end of September, the Wisconsin Election Commission offered up to $1,200 to each municipality and county for a grant to improve cyber security.

With big races at the local, state, and national level set for 2020, election security is being seen as a high priority here in Wisconsin.

"It's important that everybody votes, it's important that every vote counts exactly how that person voted. We take every measure to make sure that happens," said Loomis.

The spring primary is Feb. 14, then the spring election and presidential primary races will April 7.

The partisan primary will be on Aug. 11 and the general election, including the race for President, will be on Nov. 3.