2018 Election Voting

The Minnesota Legislature has taken steps to make sure that the state's voting system is secure from outside hackers.

Election security should not be a partisan issue, but it has apparently become that, at least in Washington.

While election officials in the 50 states trade ideas and best practices, and the Department of Homeland Security lends expertise, some leading officials in Washington — in particular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have shown little interest in addressing the issue.

"It's certainly not helping," Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said in a meeting with the Post-Bulletin's editorial board when asked about Mitchell's intransigence. "It's very unfortunate. It's very, very disappointing to me."

Simon pointed to an election security bill written by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar that has bi-partisan sponsorship and support, but can't get a vote in McConnell's Senate. That, despite widespread acceptance by the intelligence community that foreign operatives have hacked the U.S. election apparatus and will try to do so again.

Well, if Washington won't act, Minnesota has and will — and on a bipartisan basis.

"We're in good shape because we're a paper-ballot state," said Simon, who is in charge of the state's election system. "And there's no question about that. That has bipartisan support."

Paper ballots, of course, are much more difficult to hack than touch-screen pads and other electronic devices.

"This is one of the few places in society where everybody is agreeing low-tech is better than high-tech," Simon said.

Just to make sure Minnesota's system is safe, though, the state has gone through extensive training and testing with intelligence officials to find and shore up any weaknesses. 

"We have done everything we can to minimize the risk," Simon said.

Simon said Russia tried to hack Minnesota's election system in 2016 and failed.

Asked if he has any doubt Russia will try again, Simon said, "No."

But, he added, other operators, foreign or domestic, could also try.

"I can't care who it is," he said." My job is to keep them out."

It would certainly help if leaders in Washington were as serious about voting security as officials in Minnesota continue to be.

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