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Are drop boxes secure, where are ballots stored and who has access to them? Answers to your questions about voting in Milwaukee

Alison Dirr
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From absentee ballots popped into drop boxes to those cast on Election Day, there are a series of security measures Milwaukee election officials have put in place to protect the vote. 

While the city has seen a huge increase in mail-in voting, "the amount of misinformation and skepticism at a national level around the validity of absentee voting has really taken off," Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said during a recent panel discussion.
密尔沃基市选举委员会执行主任克莱尔-伍德尔-沃格(Claire Woodall-Vogg)在最近的一次小组讨论中表示,虽然该市的邮寄投票大幅增加,但 "在全国范围内,围绕缺席投票有效性的误导和怀疑的数量确实急剧增加"。

She said voting would be safe and secure regardless of how voters choose to cast their ballots.

In Milwaukee, voters can drop their absentee ballots into 24-hour drop boxes, vote at 14 early voting locations from Oct. 20 through Nov. 1, or go in person on Election Day, Nov. 3. 

Here are some of the ways she said the process is protected:

Are the city's 24-hour absentee ballot drop boxes secure?
该市的 24 小时缺席投票箱是否安全?

The 15 drop boxes are "extremely secure," Woodall-Vogg said.
Woodall-Vogg 说,这 15 个投放箱 "非常安全"。

The boxes are under 24-hour video surveillance and have tamper seals that show if anyone was able to open the box in an unauthorized manner. The ballots are collected daily by a pair of Election Commission staff members, so there is always a witness to collecting the ballots. 
选票箱处于 24 小时视频监控之下,并贴有防伪封条,可显示是否有人以未经授权的方式打开选票箱。选票每天由一对选举委员会工作人员收集,因此收集选票时总会有目击者。

The ballots then are in a locked bag as they are transported to the Election Commission's warehouse on South Kinnickinnic Avenue.

What about once absentee ballots reach the warehouse?

At the city's warehouse, absentee ballots that are both blank and filled out are secured in a room that is locked at night and under 24-hour video surveillance. Only two staff members have the key to that room.
在该市的仓库里,空白选票和填写好的缺席选票都被存放在一个房间里,该房间夜间上锁,24 小时视频监控。只有两名工作人员拥有该房间的钥匙。

The rest of the warehouse is also secured and under video surveillance. 

At least two workers are always in the room any time the door to the ballot room is open, so no one is ever working alone, Woodall-Vogg said.
Woodall-Vogg 说,每次投票室的门打开时,都至少有两名工作人员在里面,因此没有人会单独工作。

What are the devices used at early voting locations — are they electronic voting machines? 

No. They are ballot-marking devices.

In Milwaukee, when residents go to one of the early voting locations, they will use an express vote machine that marks the ballot.

It is not tied to the internet and still produces a paper ballot that will be run through a machine to count the votes on Election Day, just like any other absentee ballot.

Voters can view their ballots to ensure their votes are correct before they put the ballots in the envelopes. 

The city has been using these machines since 2018, Woodall-Vogg said.
Woodall-Vogg 说,自 2018 年以来,该市一直在使用这些机器。

How does the city ensure the voting machines are secure and reporting correctly?

Voting machines used at the polls are programmed offline so they cannot be remotely hacked, Woodall-Vogg said.

They are each tested by feeding test ballots through, and then those test results are sent via modem to the county to ensure there are no programming errors and the machines are casting the votes accurately.

A printout certifies the machine has been tested.

The machines are offline on Election Day, preventing them from being hacked once the election is programmed in.

How will any disruptions at the polls or early voting be handled? 

Woodall-Vogg said chief inspectors are trained to expect additional election observers during presidential elections.

"With any election, I know there's lots of concerns about polling place safety and security and whether or not any observers could be there to intentionally cause any interference or intimidation," she said.

She said chief inspectors at polling places and site supervisors at early voting locations are trained to maintain control over the polling place and ensure that no voter is experiencing intimidation or badgering.

"That won't be tolerated, so much so that if the observer isn't complying with the chief inspector, the next phone call is to the police," she said.

Election observers must observe the same rules during early voting as on Election Day, she said.

Election officials, Woodall-Vogg said, are working closely with law enforcement in preparation for the election.

"In most years, our biggest threat are cybersecurity attacks and this year we are facing more concerns around actual polling place safety."

But, she said, officials are not aware of any imminent threat in Milwaukee, and election inspectors, chief inspectors and law enforcement will be trained on what is and is not allowed at a polling place.

What about cybersecurity threats?

Woodall-Vogg said while there are always cybersecurity threats, the biggest this year is not necessarily against infrastructure but rather foreign influences creating misinformation. 
Woodall-Vogg 说,虽然网络安全威胁一直存在,但今年最大的威胁不一定是针对基础设施的,而是外国势力制造的错误信息。

"Especially, the most recent threat has been a concern about creating misinformation about election results on Election Day using different social media channels," she said. 

She advised voters to seek results from election officials and from reputable news sources — not social media.

The Milwaukee Election Commission is working closely with the state Elections Commission, which has created many different security protocols, she said. Those include the software installed on computers and multi-factor authentication required to log into the voter database.

It's been reassuring, she said, that there haven't been any successful attacks, especially on the voter registration database.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or adirr@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr.
请致电 414-224-2383 或 adirr@jrn.com 与 Alison Dirr 联系。请在 Twitter @AlisonDirr 上关注她。