Please See Attachment (Election Security Subgrant Clerk Communication.pdf above) for important information, including a flowchart and requirements.
1. SUMMARY. Election security requires that our individual computers, office networks, and the statewide voter registration system are all protected. Devices with outdated anti-virus software or unsupported operating systems put voter information and critical election administration tasks at risk. To help communities improve their computer hardware, software, and support, any Wisconsin County, City, Village, or Town may apply for a grant of up to $1,200.00 to achieve baseline security in their jurisdiction. These funds are a subgrant from federal election security money provided under the Help America Vote Act.
2. BACKGROUND. Election officials use their computer workstations to access vital elections records in WisVote, correspond with voters, print reports containing voter data, generate letters, print labels, send absentee ballots by email, receive voter registration forms that contain personally identifiable information and perform many other tasks that are critical to running elections. Because each of these workstations may access WisVote, the strength or weakness of any one workstation could affect the security of the entire state’s elections infrastructure and the public’s confidence in the integrity of Wisconsin elections. To ensure Wisconsin remains safe, WisVote access will require the use of an up-to-date computer system beginning no later than January 28, 2020.
Local election officials who do not use WisVote contract with a county or neighboring municipality to complete their statutory duties in the WisVote system, such as entering voter registration records, issuing absentee ballots, or printing poll books. For those clerks, their election business and transactions are conducted through email and locally stored files. An up-to-date, managed device is the only way to ensure those jurisdictions can electronically store and transmit voter information securely. Apart from potential impacts from working in WisVote, the use of secure devices not only protects individual work stations, but also elevates the state’s overall security posture and has a multiplying effect due to the frequency of electronic communications which pass among local election officials and between those offices and the WEC.
3. WHAT CAN FUNDS BE USED FOR? Subject to grant conditions, jurisdictions must use the funds for the following expenses:
1) computer hardware and/or software to meet minimum security recommendations
2) professional IT support
3) travel and staff costs associated with Election Security training.
Please see the chart on page four of this document for further information. Jurisdictions accepting grant funds must also agree to complete an Elections Security Contingency Plan (sample provided).
4. WHAT IF I NEED SOMETHING ELSE? The Commission may decide to approve funds for other election security needs. A separate clerk communication will be published explaining how jurisdictions that have met baseline security standards can ask for assistance to fund other election security needs, if additional funds remain available.
5. HOW DO JURISDICTIONS APPLY? The clerk of each jurisdiction must submit a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the WEC no later than November 15, 2019. The MOU is available on the WEC website. Simply complete the MOU and return a signed copy to the WEC. Electronic versions of the MOU that contain a signature are acceptable and may be emailed to [email protected]. The flowchart on page three depicts the grant process from start to finish.
6. WILL THE WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION HELP? Absolutely! The WEC has detailed guides that suggest solutions and provide instructions how to meet all requirements. These guides come with the application materials.
7. WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? Call the WEC Help Desk at 608-261-2028 or e-mail [email protected].