Safety plans practiced, WEC confident in elections processes ahead of Election Day

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Elections Commission says catching fraudulently requested absentee military ballots was proof the system works. Now there's a sharpened focus on looking for threats to the elections process.

Friday the WEC briefed the media on the safeguards that are in place to ensure a fair election.

WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe says elections officials have worked with law enforcement for years to protect against cyber threats, but now they're also having to protect against the possibility of physical threats.

She says those safety plans have been practiced, and they're ready for election day.

Wolfe said, "They have not identified any specific or credible threats to election infrastructure, including polling places on election day."

She said they've worked on contingency plans and practiced those plans. It's one of several challenges the Wisconsin Elections Commission is trying to identify and address ahead of time.

Another is reminding the public the entire process is transparent.

Wolfe said, "Elections don't happen behind closed doors. Every aspect of the election process will be open to the public Tuesday."

That means people can observe from 7 a.m. when polls open, to when the last absentee ballot is counted Tuesday night, to when results are transmitted from the polling place to the county.

And representatives from both parties will also be on hand to observe every step of the process. Wolfe said, "If people have questions or concerns, if they think something didn't go right at the central count location, they're going to turn to observers or maybe representatives of their party that were actually there."

Wolfe said it's important to note election night results are never the certified results. Officials have until December 1st to verify the unofficial results to ensure an accurate vote total.

If disinformation is spread or fraud is alleged, the WEC will address it online on its website. "But our practice has generally been not to engage with the misinformation itself," Wolfe said.

The unofficial results may not be complete until the next morning, or even later, because Wolfe says election officials prioritize accuracy over speed.

On election day she plans to answer calls from local elections officials and voters, but she's confident the preparation will pave the way for a smooth process. "Putting out proactive information has been really effective to be able to tell people 'this is what the law says, this is what you can expect to see' is really helpful."

As of Friday, November 4, more than 750,000 absentee ballots have been requested. About 85% of them have already been returned.

Meagan Wolfe said the WEC plans to have media availability on election day in order to share as much information as possible.

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