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Election security threats and the proposed solution

MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) — Outdated Windows systems could impact election security in Wisconsin. Officials say the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) has started a pilot program to address concerns.

The proposal, prepared by Election Security Lead Tony Bridges, cites concerns over aging computer systems. He states, “the strength or weakness of any one work station could affect the security of the entire state’s elections infrastructure.”

Bridge then explained at least a handful of computers that access WisVote no longer receive security updates; that includes Windows XP which hasn’t been updated since 2014.

WEC won’t specify which users are vulnerable due to privacy concerns. “We always want to be careful when we’re talking about elections security,” said WEC PIO Reid Magney. “We don’t want to divulge where there might be vulnerabilities in the system.”

Additionally, hundreds of Windows 7 users could soon impact costs and security. Microsoft will stop offering free updates to the software in 2020. That means 527 users involved in the election process will have to pay for updates or come to a conclusion with the state.

In the meantime, WEC authorized a pilot program to spend up to $30,000 on 25 new computers and initial steps mentioned in Bridges’ proposal. That plan will be readdressed by WEC in September.

Kevin Millard

Kevin Millard-Social Media Digital Content Manager for WXOW.

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