Time to take election security seriously

We know that the 2016 U.S. elections were attacked by Russian hackers who tried to get access to voting records and tallying systems. We know they planted false stories on social media to stir up divisions among us. Special Counsel Robert Mueller just got done investigating the breach, an investigation that resulted in 13 indictments against Russian nationals who were involved. And we know that the 2020 election is likely to be targeted again.

To help prevent that, the federal government has made $380 million available to the states to beef up election security. To date, 49 states have taken advantage of the federal funds. The lone holdout is Minnesota, where apparently partisan politics can torpedo the most innocuous measures.

Minnesota would get about $6 million. Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, wants to use it to upgrade the state’s voter registration system and hire a “cyber navigator” to help protect against cyber attacks.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate want to steer the money to their pet projects, i.e. Voter ID laws and other measures that they say are needed to protect against rampant voter fraud, which no one has ever been able to document.

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of State who is now the Senate elections committee chair, pooh-poohs the idea of cyber attacks on our voting system. According to an article Sunday in the Star Tribune, she said, “People are getting hacked all the time. You’re being hacked all the time. I am. This is no big thing.”

This cavalier attitude toward a proven threat to our state voting system’s security is unconscionable. Kiffmeyer and others in the Senate who oppose using this money for protecting our election system should be ashamed.

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