WisconsinWeekly: How Wisconsin’s elections could be hacked; sexual assaults at UW-Madison

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Experts detail voting vulnerabilities, sexual assault stats vary, new campaign disclosure required, ATV routes opposed and knife rights advance

Of note: This week we highlight two of our own stories. Fulbright fellow Grigor Atanesian further explores the state of Wisconsin’s voting security, detailing the ways that bad actors could compromise our elections — and what state officials are doing to prevent such an attack. The story, based on interviews with seven nationally and internationally known cybersecurity experts, zeroes in on cell technology, modems and unregulated private contractors. We also feature a collaboration with Madison Magazine’s Maggie Ginsberg exploring sexual assault at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and why the statistics paint wildly different pictures of the problem. The most eye-opening number — that 1 in 4 UW-Madison female undergraduates reports being sexually assaulted while in college — is the “real deal,” according to a top UW-Madison official. But we found assaults are rarely reported to police or campus officials.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

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How hackers could attack Wisconsin’s elections and what state officials are doing about it

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — September 16, 2018

Following up on his July story, WCIJ’s Grigor Atanesian explores in depth the specific cybersecurity vulnerabilities facing the various components of Wisconsin’s voting systems, from voting machines and removable memory devices to modems and cellular connections. State officials insist they are on top of the problem and that Wisconsin’s elections infrastructure is secure because, among other safeguards, voting machines are not connected to the internet and each vote is backed by a paper ballot to verify results. But cybersecurity experts have voiced concerns.

Facing the truth behind the statistics of sexual assault

Madison Magazine — September 20, 2018

In our first collaboration with Madison Magazine, we obtained police reports and helped reporter Maggie Ginsberg analyze the often-confusing data around the reporting of sexual assaults of University of Wisconsin-Madison students. “Reports of assault on campus have nearly tripled since 2011,” reports Ginsberg, “but that increase, while alarming, may offer helpful information in addressing the problem, according to those working to improve resources, transparency and support for survivors.”

Political nonprofits must now name many of their donors under federal court ruling after Supreme Court declines to intervene

Washington Post — September 18, 2018

Nonprofit advocacy groups that give money to influence political campaigns must disclose all donors who give more than $200, following a Tuesday decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not intervene in a federal case that began nearly six years ago. “The ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country’s wealthiest donors,” reports the Washington Post. Conservatives have expressed concerns about changing rules regarding donor privacy and political speech in the middle of a campaign. Earlier from WCIJ: Secret cash aided politicians who rewrote Wisconsin law to block claims of lead-poisoned children

National coalition urges Sauk County Board to reject ATV road routes

Baraboo News Republic — September 18, 2018

Tim Damos reports that a coalition working to reduce off-road vehicle deaths is urging Sauk County Board members not to open any more roads to all-terrain vehicles and utility-task vehicles. In a letter to the board, the group, which includes the Consumer Federation of America and professionals from hospitals and university research centers, said the vehicles’ low-pressure tires and high center of gravity make them dangerous for on-road use. They note that the majority of Wisconsin’s off-road vehicle fatalities in recent years occurred on roads, and the vehicles’ manufacturers caution consumers against such use. Local ATV clubs say the concerns are overblown and that creating off-road routes is impractical. Earlier from WCIJ: Despite hazards, Wisconsin, other states open roads to ATVs

Borrowing strategy from NRA, activists quietly overturn knife restrictions across U.S.

Washington Post — September 15, 2018

While national debate focuses on gun laws, activists are successfully pushing to loosen restrictions on knife-carrying. Since 2010, 21 states have repealed or weakened their knife laws. In some cases, activists have gained Democratic support by casting the changes as part of criminal justice reform, citing disproportionate numbers of people of color arrested for carrying illegal knives — in some cases without realizing their knives were prohibited. FBI data from 2016 shows that knives are the second-leading cause of homicides in the United States, responsible for four times as many deaths as rifles, including the much-contested assault rifles.

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