Municipal Clerks: January 28th is fast approaching
The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s $1.1 million grant program has an important deadline approaching.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance on getting the most value from your grant funds and ensuring that you are prepared for January 28th.
#1 — Hardware and Software
Purchasing a compliant computer is simple enough — in fact, most modern computers will do. However, if you plan to upgrade an existing computer, the process may be more involved and could require some technical assistance.
Minimum Recommended Configuration (per the WEC):
- Form Factor: Computers now come as tablets, laptops, desktops, and all-in-one machines. Any form factor will work; however, clerks may find tablets and some laptops too small for comfortable work.
- Operating System: Windows 10
- Processor or CPU: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor. Processors from Intel or AMD are most common. Good choices include Pentium, Core i3, Core i5, Athlon or Ryzen.
- RAM (memory): 2 gigabytes (GB) or more.
- Hard Disk Space (storage): 128 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
- Graphics Card: Integrated graphics supporting DirectX 9 or later.
- Screen Size: 14 inches or larger (a matter of personal preference).
- Ports: Consider the number of USB ports for any printers, devices, or scanners you will connect to your device.
- All-New: Devices must not be refurbished to qualify for the grant.
Regardless of whether you upgrade an existing computer or purchase a new one, what happens afterwards is where things often fall apart. See #2 — IT Support Capable of Maintaining Standards below.
#2 —IT Support capable of maintaining standards
Ongoing support to keep your computer(s) compliant is the most difficult and expensive part for most municipalities, but it doesn’t have to be. The WEC outlines two options to achieve compliance for this:
- Possess in-house, shared, or contracted IT staff that provides all the services listed in Appendix C: “The local election jurisdiction will then need to certify that it has compliant IT support and provide the documentation detailing their support with their Election Security Subgrant Compliance Form.“
- Obtain a Managed Service Provider (that’s us): “A jurisdiction may also use their ES grant funds to contract with a managed IT support provider to maintain minimum standards. The local election jurisdiction will then need to certify that it has compliant IT support and provide the documentation detailing their support with their Election Security Subgrant Compliance Form. More information about choosing a support provider is included in Appendix C.”
Many municipalities are too small or tight on cash to afford hiring somebody to take care of these needs. Since our package is designed specifically with municipal needs in mind, we’re able to keep costs substantially lower than paying an internal employee. We also know exactly what to do to keep your device up to date, secure, compliant, and running its best.
Did you know?
A program called OPSWAT is required to be installed on your computer in order to be compliant.
We can help install OPSWAT and handle the rest of your compliance needs.
Don’t miss the deadline — Devices not in compliance by January 28, 2020 will be denied access to WisVote.
#3 — Training and Planning
- Participate in an Election Security Exercise. To comply with the terms of the ES Subgrant program, a representative from each local election jurisdiction must participate in an Elections Security TTX, Elections Administration TTX, Cyber Security Workshop, or Elections Security Roundtable before August 1, 2020.Jurisdictions may apply up to $100 of ES Subgrant funds to cover travel expenses and staff time associated with this requirement. The jurisdiction must certify their attendance at an event on the WEC Security Subgrant Compliance Form. Subgrant funds may be used for travel expenses and staff time associated with election security training.Attendance at a past training event will meet the requirements of this subgrant, however the $100 is only available for new attendance.
- Completion of WisVote Cyber Security Training. Upon acceptance of the ES Subgrant, the local election jurisdiction agrees to abide by the WisVote access policy. Regardless of whether the jurisdiction is a WisVote user or not, each full-time employee performing elections work must complete six free on-line training modules. If the jurisdiction is not currently using WisVote, it can request access to the WEC learning center and complete the required training by following the instructions in Appendix C. Completion of the training requires approximately 1.5 hours. Past completion of the training will meet the requirements of this subgrant.
- Completion of a Contingency Plan. The WEC recommends every municipality maintain a contingency plan in the event of an election security crisis, and the completion of a plan is a requirement for the subgrant program. To assist with this process, information about preparing a sample contingency plan can be found in Appendix C.
Additional recommended functions
WEC outlines a few additional recommendations that we would also strongly suggest you consider. Please reach out if you have any questions.
- Daily Data Backup and Recovery. Establishing a back-up rotation scheme and recovery testing for the jurisdiction.
- Authentication. The ability to manage digital certificates and set-up multifactor authentication.
- Network Monitoring and Security. Implementing best practices to prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of a computer network and network-accessible resources. Retention of log in records is also recommended.
We'd love to help
We are fully compliant and have processes in place to:
- Notify the WEC of any cybersecurity incidents involving the clerk or election systems that we maintain
- Receive Cyber Alerts from the Information Sharing and Analysis Center
- Maintain current patches, firmware, anti-virus software, and web filtering software.
Don’t miss the deadline! Devices not in compliance by January 28, 2020 will be denied access to WisVote.
- Official Page: Wisconsin Elections Commission 2019 Election Security Subgrant Program
- Original Announcement: Wisconsin Elections Commission Offers Grants to Help Improve Cyber Security
- Official Document: Election Security Subgrant MOU Appendix B (Compliance Standards).pdf
- Official Document: Election Security Subgrant Appendix C (How to Guide).pdf
Below are some key dates related to the grant.
September 27, 2019
Grant Announcement Issued
Distribute grant announcement to each municipality and county.
On or before November 15, 2019
Executed MOUs Due
Jurisdictions return executed MOUs to the WEC agreeing to the terms of the grant.
November 29, 2019
WEC issues grant checks to each jurisdiction as soon as completed MOU is returned and processed. All checks to be issued by deadline.
January 28, 2020
Deadline for Compliance
Grant recipients must be in compliance with the terms of the grant by this date. Jurisdictions must submit Grant Compliance Form to the WEC, no later than this date.
January 31, 2020
WEC reviews Grant Compliance Forms and follow up. Extensions granted at the discretion of the WEC.
September 30, 2020
Final completion deadline if an extension was granted. Jurisdictions granted an extension must submit a final Grant Compliance Form. All unspent grant funds must be returned to the WEC.