Wisconsin elections officials scale back security proposal

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin elections officials scaled back a plan Tuesday to buy scores of new loaner computers for local clerks using outdated systems open to cyberattacks, saying the proposal is too expensive when they don't have a firm grasp on how many clerks really need new computers.

Wisconsin Elections Commission staff had proposed spending up to $300,000 on 250 new machines to loan to clerks who can't afford to upgrade their systems. The commission agreed to buy 25 computers for $30,000 after learning that only five clerks out of 2,000 are using old systems.

"If they're at risk we should help them," Commissioner Mark Thomsen said. "(But) buying a machine isn't the answer."

The commission's chief security officer, Tony Bridges, wrote in a memo released last week that "at least a handful" of clerks are logging into the state elections system using Windows XP and hundreds more are logging in using Windows 7.

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014. Free security upgrades for Windows 7 will end in January.

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