(Karen McKim is Co-ordinator of www.WisconsinElectionIntegrity, org)

Democracy will appreciate it if you contact the WI Elections Commission in the next few days to tell them to seek newly available federal funds to bring routine election auditing to Wisconsin.

Election security is finally getting some of the official attention it has long needed. Mark Pocan has sponsored legislation, HR1562, the Secure America’s Future Election Act, which would make unaudited elections illegal. However, we can get improvement in Wisconsin before Pocan’s bill passes (it won’t, at least this session).

The omnibus budget bill that just passed Congress last week contained election-security grants for the states, including almost $7 million for Wisconsin. Each state’s elections agency has only 45 days (early May) to put together a proposal for how the funds will be spent. So WEC is busy right now, putting together a rushed request for $7 million in federal funds to improve election security.

We need to tell WEC to include pre-certification election auditing in their request for federal funds.

In some ways, Wisconsin’s election security is better than some other states’–we have paper ballots, decentralized counting, Election-Day registration that makes tampering with electronic poll books relatively pointless, and more.

There is one critical security measure in which Wisconsin lags most other states and badly, too: Wisconsin county clerks make a habit of declaring election results final before verifying whether the vote-counting computers identified the correct winners. That is justifiably illegal now in 25 states (26 if you count DC) and contrary to every national authority’s recommendation.

As you probably know, Wisconsin law allows county canvasses to check accuracy, but they choose not to. The problem isn’t time or money. Wisconsin’s county clerks have as much time for the canvass as their counterparts in other states who do audit, and modern election-audit methods are so efficient they could almost be funded from petty cash. This is what needs to be done NOW:

Contact the WEC and tell them that you want them to include funding for routine audits during the county canvass in Wisconsin’s federal grant application.

A quick tweet @WI_Elections would be enough, but you can also

Email them at (Chair Mark Thomsen and Administrator Meagan Wolfe) or

Snail-mail them at Wisconsin Elections Commission, P.O. Box 7984, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-798, with a cc to

U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 1335 East West Highway, Suite 4300, Silver Spring, MD 20910, and to

Jill Lau, Chair, Wisconsin County Clerks Association, 421 Nebraska St., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin 54235.

If you want to do more, you can contact Senator Baldwin, Senator Johnson, and the US Election Assistance Commission to tell them that they, too, should encourage the WEC to seek funds for election auditing.

Extra credit to those who write letters to newspapers, with a cc to WEC.

Also, please, when you’ve contacted WEC, let WEC know. The WEC hardly ever gets any citizen input on election security, and they will definitely sit up and take notice if they get a lot now. Your effort will NOT be wasted.

(In conjunction with – Wisconsin Grassroots Network)