Walker activates National Guard troops for Election Day

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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY/AP) - Republican Gov. Scott Walker has taken the unusual step of activating the Wisconsin National Guard troops on Election Day.

Walker issued an executive order Friday authorizing troops to "provide essential services to the Wisconsin Elections Commission." The order doesn't offer any further details on the troops' mission.

Walker's office issued a news release saying the order allows the National Guard's cyber security team to help the commission if requested.

Commission spokesman Reid Magney says he can't remember a governor issuing such an order.

Commission Executive Director Meagan Wolfe insisted during a conference call with reporters Friday that she remains in charge of state elections and the commission's software is secure from hackers. She says the troops were activated so they'd be ready if needed.

Gov. Walker described the executive order as a proactive measure.

The governor said, "Our Adjutant General approached me, and he said talking to this team I'd like to have them on call and ready. To do that I have to issue an executive order, and in fact that just makes sense. It's a good precaution, particularly in light of all the discussions over the last few years about cyber attacks in the past. We'd rather be proactive and have nothing happen than the other way around."

Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs Joy Staab emphasized the executive order.

Staab said the order is more like a “heads up” for the cyber security team.

According to Staab, if the cyber security team were activated it would be behind the scenes and not seen at the polls.

Staab said if the cyber security team is activated on Tuesday, the National Guard will say so.

At this time there are no troops activated and there is no plan to activate them unless there is a request.

“I’d like to emphasize that this particular executive order was issued with an emphasis for security," said Staab. "The Wisconsin National Guard has a really unique capability. We have a cyber security team made up of IT professionals who can standby in this case ready to assist local and states officials if requested."

Friday morning a ProPublica analysis found election computer servers in Wisconsin and Kentucky susceptible to hacking.

Major Staab was asked if this was the reason for Governor Walker's executive order but she was not aware of that report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. WBAY contributed to this report.



 
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