Have any Wisconsin elections been hacked? A few elections were recounted, but no one knows about the others. Until this year, Wisconsin's election officials merely added up the machines' vote totals and declared the results final. Audits were something that they did later, if ever.
But Wisconsin's clerks are waking up to the fact that if they choose to, they can detect miscounts in time to correct them.
So this month, for the first time in Wisconsin's history, voters can be present as clerks hand-count paper ballots. These audits will verify at least some computer-tabulated results before they declare election results final.
At least one audit will be conducted in every county. The day after the election, Wisconsin Elections Commission staff randomly selected 5% of the voting machines and ordered those municipal clerks to conduct hand counts. Those audits are now underway, and will be completed before November 28. Click here to see if a municipality near you is conducting one.
Do not expect the audits to detect problems.
Finding problems in this election is not the audits' main value.
Routine audits are valuable for the fraud they deter.
Our election officials need public support and recognition for starting down the road to secure, audited elections. Here's what you can do:
- At a minimum, call your local municipal clerk and your county clerk to thank them for this year's audits and encourage them to do more in future elections. The WEC can order only municipalities (not counties) to check accuracy, and can do that for only one election every two years. Voters need to pressure our local officials to do more, voluntarily.
- Better yet, ask the municipal clerk when the audit will be conducted in your municipality. Attend and observe, if only for an hour or two. As administrative procedures, audits are more relaxed than recounts. The municipal clerk should allow you to observe closely enough to see the ballots yourself, and your presence will show the clerks their work is appreciated.
- More detailed instructions for observing the audits are here.
Call your municipal clerk today, and support the efforts to secure Wisconsin's elections with routine audits.