Dayton Has Yet To Sign Omnibus Bill That Includes Money for Election Cyber Security

May 23, 2018 10:53 AM

The video above originally aired in March


The massive omnibus spending bill Gov. Mark Dayton has suggested he may possibly veto includes federal money Minnesota could use for election cybersecurity.

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President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 in March. It authorized funding to states for elections under the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

RELATED: From Taxes to School Safety, Legislature's Work in Limbo

But in order for the money to come to Minnesota for cyber security, it must be approved by the legislature and governor.

Minnesota's share of the federal funds is $6,595,610, according to the Secretary of State's office.

On Sunday, Minnesota’s legislature approved more than $1.5 million of the federal funding for FY2019 to be used by Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office as part of the omnibus supplemental spending bill.

RELATED: Minnesota Will Still Use Some Voting Machines Over a Decade Old in November

But Dayton has not yet signed it.

“I have tried to sound the alarm without being alarmist, “said Simon last week when he asked the legislature not to tie up the funding in an omnibus bill.

“The Russians attempted to hack our elections in 2016. We know they will be back in 2018.”

On Tuesday, Simon's office criticized the legislature for doing what Simon had asked them not to.

"Secretary Simon has been working with GOP and DFL legislators since late March to find a way to make these federal funds - not one penny of which adds to Minnesotans' tax burden - available so that our office can accelerate the work of protecting Minnesota's best-in-the-nation elections," Ben Petok, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's Office said in an email.

"Senator Klobuchar fought for Minnesota to get this federal money. Secretary Simon urged lawmakers to send the authorization to access this election cybersecurity money to the Governor in a clean elections bill. There is universal bipartisan agreement on the need for these funds. Unfortunately, the legislature chose the riskiest path forward, creating a high likelihood that more than $6 million in cyber defense money will be left sitting in an account untouchable until after the 2018 election. This was a completely avoidable outcome."

Minnesota was one of 21 states that had its election system targeted by Russian hackers in 2016.

Election cyber security is one of many issues tied up in legislation awaiting the governor’s signature in the omnibus spending bill.

Earlier this spring, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found old voting systems in place at polling stations across Minnesota.

Last year, state lawmakers authorized $7 million in grants to help counties accelerate the process of improving that situation.

But those counties actually requested double that amount of money to improve and upgrade systems.

Credits

Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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