WI’s Waukesha County Clerk Keeps Elections Results on Her Personal Computer
Posted by DemocraticUnderground 4/7/11
Waukesha – Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ decision to go it alone in how she collects and maintains election results has some county officials raising a red flag about the integrity of the system.
Nickolaus said she decided to take the election data collection and storage system off the county’s computer network – and keep it on stand-alone personal computers accessible only in her office – for security reasons. “What it gave me was good security of the elections from start to finish, without the ability of someone unauthorized to be involved,” she said.
Nonetheless, Director of Administration Norman A. Cummings said because Nickolaus has kept them out of the loop, the county’s information technology specialists have not been able to verify Nickolaus’ claim that the system is secure from failure.
“How does anybody else in the county know, except for her verbal word, that there are backups, and that the software she has out there is performing as it should?” he said. “There’s no way I can assure that the election system is going to be fine for the next presidential election.”
An audit of Nickolaus’ handling of the 2010 election found that she needed to take steps to improve security and backup procedures, like stop sharing passwords. The audit was requested after the county’s director of administration said Nickolaus had been uncooperative with attempts to have county experts review her systems and confirm backups were in place.
Nickolaus was given immunity from prosecution in a 2002 criminal investigation into illegal activity by members of the assembly Republican Caucus. She worked for 13 years as a data analyst and computer specialist for the caucus.
She resigned from her state job in 2002 just before launching her county clerk campaign.
The corruption probe took down then-Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, a Republican; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala, D-Madison; Sen. Brian Burke, D-Milwaukee, co-chairman of the powerful Joint Finance Committee; Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti, R-Oconomowoc; and Rep. Bonnie Ladwig, R-Racine. They all reached plea deals.