Elections Security: Trusted Email Address Information

1. Purpose.  This memorandum provides information how and why to obtain a trusted wi.gov or .gov email address.  The Wisconsin Elections Commission and U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have created an updated way for local governments to obtain either a wi.gov or .gov email address.  This is a low-cost and simple way to enhance security for you and your valued residents.  

2. Recommendation.  WEC staff recommends that all Wisconsin counties and municipalities establish an official email address through one of the government’s regulated Domain Name Systems (DNS).  These domains end in .gov and can only be obtained by U.S.-based government organizations.  Using one of these domains reduces cyber security risks to both the jurisdiction and Wisconsin citizens.  

In 2022 the WEC will begin implementation of new policies to restrict official communications with unofficial email domains, particularly for WisVote users.  All WisVote users will eventually be required to have a .gov domain for official email communications.  There is not yet a set date for this change, however the WEC encourages all Wisconsin jurisdictions to act soon to acquire a .gov domain.

3. Background.  We all use email in our official communications.  Some municipalities currently allow their clerks to use personal email accounts for official communications or to create shared accounts through free email providers.  While these techniques are simple and inexpensive, they are not risk free.  

Free email providers have access to the contents of your messages and often have no restrictions on the use or sale of your personal data.  Free providers also allow anyone to create an account and use any name they choose.  These shortcomings allow email providers to sell your data for targeted advertising and email spoofing. 

Email spoofing is when an email address is created that looks similar to an official email address or can trick a user into believing it is an authentic email address.  When attackers are able to spoof emails of government officials the public may be more likely to fall for scams and/or distrust official communications.  

Please see the attached memo for examples and more information. If you have questions, please contact the WEC Help Desk at (608) 261-2028, or @email.  Thank you.