Voting Equipment Security

Wisconsin state law and Election Commission administrative rules outline a security protocol to ensure the integrity of Wisconsin elections. Voting systems used in Wisconsin are federally tested and certified, with the exception of systems that transmit unofficial results.  Voting systems equipped with cellular modems have not received federal certification.  All voting systems have been tested and certified by state officials to ensure compatibility with Wisconsin law.  State testing is also designed to confirm the reliability and security of any modeming functionality that a system may have.  Voting equipment modeming capability is disabled until the polls close.

Public Test of Voting Equipment 

All municipalities are required to conduct a public test of their voting equipment within 10 days each election.  Pre-election testing is intended to confirm the accuracy of voting equipment programming.  This event is considered a public meeting and must be noticed at least 48 hours prior.  The public is invited to attend and observe the testing process.

Programming is verified by feeding a set of pre-marked ballots into each machine and reviewing the results tape that is generated.  Vote totals for each candidate in a contest should differ so that any errors in a contest can be detected.  An errorless count is required at the conclusion of the process.  Any anomalies identified in testing must be remedied before the equipment can be used in an election.  Wis. Stats. - 5.84(1)

Post Public Test and Election Day Security Procedures

Following the public test, the voting equipment and memory devices are required to be secured.  The memory device must remain in the equipment with a tamper-evident seal used to secure memory device compartments.  A chain-of-custody log is required to be maintained that documents any access to each memory device or tabulator.  Verification of the serial numbers must take place before the polls open in the morning and after the close of polls.  WEC also recommends that election officials verify this information throughout Election Day.  All access to the memory device must be documented on the Inspectors’ Statement.

Post-Election Audit of Voting Equipment

Wisconsin statutes require a post-election audit of voting systems used in Wisconsin after each General Election.  The audit is designed to assess the accuracy and performance of each voting system approved for use in the state.  The audit is a public meeting and proper notice must be provided at least 48 hours in advance. A representative sample of reporting units that use each type of voting equipment are included in the selection process.  The parameters of each audit are established by the Elections Commission.

During this process, elections workers conduct an independent hand count of paper ballots and tally the results of the contests.  The final hand-count tally total is compared to the election night voting system results.  Audit materials are submitted to WEC for review.  Any discrepancies are investigated by WEC staff.  Commission staff may request a vendor investigate and provide explanation for any unexplained discrepancies.  WEC may, at its sole discretion, choose to re-test any voting system should unexplainable issues arise in the audit.