Wisconsin "prime target" for future Russian meddling, professor says

NOW: Wisconsin “prime target“ for future Russian meddling, professor says

Marquette Assistant Political Science Professor Paul Nolette says Wisconsin makes sense as a future Russian target, given special council Robert Mueller's indictment showing Russian operatives were instructed to target "purple states."

Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsinites don't need to worry about past Russian attempts to access the state's voter registration system.

"The reason why we knew there were attempts by Russia to try and influence our election system in Wisconsin is because we stopped them," Walker said. "Any state that's telling you they didn't have an attempt is probably because they don't know."

Marquette Assistant Political Science Professor Paul Nolette said Friday's indictment was about something else - a concerted Russian effort to spread social media messages to American voters, often using stolen American identities online.

"Trying to get fake news, fake messages, spread across social media in a way that would further divide Americans during the presidential election," Nolette said.

He says Wisconsin's status as a swing state, and tense political culture, could be the focus of future Russian action.

"Wisconsin, you would have to think, would be one of the prime targets for this sort of activity moving forward," Nolette said.

Russian operatives gained hundreds of thousands of followers on fake accounts. Nolette says to be careful what you follow on social media because he doesn't think those efforts are going away.

"It's hard to stop," Nolette said. and i don't think this indictment is going to stop Russia for trying to interfere in the election, and maybe even escalating their efforts in 2018 and 2020."

The Wisconsin Elections Commission did not want to comment on this story. They said Russian social media efforts have nothing to do with security of our state elections system.

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