Wisconsin election officials preparing for state’s primary, spring elections

After chaos in Iowa caucus, how local election officials in Wisconsin prepare for its primary

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Technology and reporting issues with the Iowa caucus delayed the results. What about our own election system in Wisconsin?

Monday night the election season kicked off. Many journalists were waiting to report on the first referendum on 12 major candidates running for Democratic nomination. However, the story turned into the lack of results.

The party is blaming technical and reporting inconsistencies from a new app for the delays. Wisconsin’s primary is right around the corner which begs the question, How fail-safe is Wisconsin’s system?

“It’s no different than any other election,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer.

Dankmeyer said the Wisconsin primary is completely different from the Iowa caucus.

“You vote that ballot it goes through a machine,” Dankmeyer said. “It’s tabulated. The results are sent out, posted to the website and sent out to the state for canvassing.”

The Iowa caucus is run by citizens and volunteers from each major party. The Wisconsin primary and presidential preference in April is done by professional clerks and volunteers with election training.

“We are getting the clerks refreshed and the poll workers refreshed and every one back into election mode,” Dankmeyer said.

This election does use technology but the state does not use a universal app to report votes.

“Technology is aiding us but the system of having the elections run by municipal and county clerks is something that has been in place for more than 100 years,” said Reid Magney with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Election officials say they prepare for everything each election year including the concern of election interference.

“Our machines are not connected to the internet,” Dankmeyer said. “Our voting machines are plugged into the wall, that’s it. They are tested beforehand. They are tested from our office. They are tested at each of the polling places within 10 days of the election.”

She said that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong.

“Can you say nothing is going to happen? No, I won’t say that. Do we have every precaution in place? Absolutely,” she said.

Wisconsin voters will see three candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court on the ballot Feb. 18. In the April election, voters will see Donald Trump on the Republican side and twelve major candidates on the Democratic side.

Voters can see what’s on their local ballot at myvote.wi.gov. That’s where voters can find out if they are registered.

Local county officials will be preparing for the elections next week. They say the training helps them understand all of the voter laws to make the election process as smooth as possible.