With the CIA and the FBI agreeing that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump, many Minnesotans are concerned about protecting the integrity of the state’s election system. They shouldn’t be too worried, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Tuesday, Aug. 29, during a visit to Detroit Lakes. “My biggest surprise about this job is the time, effort and energy that I and the rest of the staff spend on cyber security issues,” said Simon, who was elected in 2014. He campaigned on running the office with a Joan Growe-style of excellence, and expected to deal with straightforward issues: expanding access to voting, removing barriers to voting, making business services as streamlined as possible.
… “The election architecture in Minnesota is old-school,” he said. “Take a pen, fill in an oval. It’s hard to hack a pen.” Minnesota has long had a bipartisan consensus that voting should always include a paper trail, he added. If there is doubt about the integrity of a vote count, election judges can always go back and check the paper ballots.
That’s not true everywhere in the United States. Simon said there are 16 or 17 states in which voters use touch-screen machines that create no paper trail whatsoever.
Adding further security to the process in Minnesota, he said, “the reporting system from the counties to our office is an encrypted system. Plus, we have humans who talk to each other—this is the vote total we sent, is that the same total you received? Plus we do election audits.”