Minnesota election security improvements underway

June 07, 2019 06:24 PM

During the recent legislative session, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon fought for approval to access millions in federal funds to enhance election security before 2020. The money was finally approved during a special session late last month, and the work is already underway implementing a plan Simon first unveiled last fall.

"This 20-point plan is a good blueprint and a good road map, and we are now executing that plan," Simon told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Friday.


In the short-term, the $6.6 million in funding authorized through the federal "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) will be used for software patches, new software and training. More long-term, the money will be used to enhance security of the voter database, including hiring cybersecurity experts.

Simon said the state's actual balloting system isn't as vulnerable as many other states.

"We didn't go in for this touch-screen voting with no paper trail or receipts that some states did," Simon said. "A good dozen-and-a-half states did a while ago. We've never done that. We have a bipartisan consensus in this state for paper, paper, paper. It's a great example of a low tech actually beating high tech."

Simon is less enthusiastic about an election law that will allow the major state parties to get lists of which of the Minnesota presidential primaries they participate in next year. The Republican and DFL parties will know which Minnesota voters took part in each other's primary. Simon said he at least successfully fought to keep that data from being made available to the general public.

"I count that as a victory for Minnesotans," he said. "It could have been a lot worse. But, in my perfect world, nobody would see it. I don't think it's anyone's business what someone's (political) affiliation is."

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Tom Hauser

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