A lot of things need to be in place if self-governing citizens are going to be assured of the right to elect those who govern. District lines must be drawn to give every vote the same weight rather than to make sure every incumbent has a safe seat. Registering to vote must be easy and convenient; every registered voter and no one else must be able to cast one and only one ballot. Every vote must be counted exactly as the voter intended, unaffected by error or fraud, and election results must be routinely verified before they are certified as final.
The Election Integrity Action Team is committed to protecting all aspects of Wisconsin's elections. While we support those who are working to make voter registration and voting more convenient and reliable, we are currently focusing our efforts on the appropriate use and management of election technology, which we believe is the weakest link in Wisconsin's election practices and the one that gets least serious attention.
Voting machines have their benefits, but they also create unique risks for error and fraud--risks that our elections officials do not yet fully appreciate or protect against. All across America, the use of elections technology has raced rapidly ahead of our ability to manage it safely and responsibly.
Voting machines are computers like any other--able to produce incorrect output at unpredictable times, due to human error in setting them up; due to mechanical or electronic malfunction; and due to deliberate manipulation (hacking). And yet, unlike any other use of computers in business or government, Wisconsin elections officials have no way to notice when and if Election-Day voting machine output contains errors in the vote totals.
When you cast a ballot in Wisconsin, there is less than one chance in 130 that anyone will check the accuracy of your voting machine, and an even smaller chance anyone will check it in time to correct any errors. That's right: In Wisconsin elections, no one routinely checks whether error or fraud affected our machine-tabulated results before the election results are declared final. In the closest races, recounts may be done but this does not protect the vast majority of our electoral contests against miscounts. In fact, we can almost be sure that if a contest produces a total within the narrow recount margin, it was not hacked, since a hacker would be sure to put the results outside the recount margin.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Wisconsin's local elections officials--particularly county clerks--currently have all the statutory authority they need to routinely verify machine-tabulated results, and efficient methods are available if they choose to use them. What's missing? Citizens who are willing to fight for democracy by asking, demanding, and supporting our county clerks to get them to adopt the prudent IT management practices of:
- conducting effective pre-election voting machine tests that verify the machines are counting votes correctly in every race (not just verifying that they count the correct number of ballots); and
- verifying the accuracy of the voting-machine output promptly after every election, to ensure that any electronic miscounts are detected and corrected during the local canvass period, before the election results are declared final.
For more information on how Wisconsin's elections can be better protected, follow our Election Integrity Blog and check out these links:
Five things you can do to help to protect Wisconsin elections in only a few hours a year.
A printable illustrated booklet describing how electronic miscounts happen, using three actual cases.
A "Field Guide" to Wisconsin's election officials--who does what at the state, county, and municipal levels.
The Case for Preserving Voter-marked Paper Ballots (Advantages of op scan over touch-screen tabulators)
Arrange an Election Integrity Road Show for your community group.
Sign up for updates and information regarding Election Integrity projects in Wisconsin.
Check out our Facebook group.
- Development Document
- Roster of Facilitators
- Election Integrity Questions for Candidates
- Election Integrity - Members' Contribution Page