Minnesota

Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.

Minnesota: Federal election security funding due for Minnesota hits snag in Legislature | Star Tribune

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is increasing pressure on legislators to help his office claim $6.6 million in federal dollars to increase election security. Minnesota was one of 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, but it is the only state to still not access federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding approved by Congress last year. After Capitol leaders initially pointed to the measure as a slam-dunk for early passage, it has yet to reach the desk of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. A proposal in the GOP-controlled Senate would release just a fraction of the money right away, leaving most of the money subject to late-session budget debate. “This is cause for concern and something I think should inspire all of us to act quickly,” Simon told the Senate’s elections committee. Simon’s plea comes fresh off a recent visit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this month. “We need the full authorization immediately,” he said.

Full Article: Federal election security funding due for Minnesota hits snag in Legislature - StarTribune.com.

Minnesota: Push to restore felon voting rights gains momentum | Star Tribune

Renee Brown-Goodell is not shy about introducing herself as a felon, a label she has carried without shame after spending more than four years in federal prison for a 2012 fraud conviction. But it still stings that she was forced to sit out the past two elections: Her right to vote remains out of reach until she completes her post-prison supervised release. “I’m out here and I’m expected to work, I’m expected to pay taxes and take care of my family and behave like a regular American citizen should behave,” Brown-Goodell said. “And yet I’m not a regular American citizen because you have stripped away my rights to be a regular American citizen.”

Full Article: Push to restore felon voting rights in Minn. gains momentum - StarTribune.com.

Minnesota: House panel advances automatic voter registration bill | MPR

Legislation creating what supporters call an automatic voter registration process in Minnesota passed its first test Wednesday in the House. The House subcommittee on elections advanced the measure on voice vote, sending it to the government operations committee. Under the bill, applicants for a state driver’s license, identification or learner’s permit would be put into the voter registration system unless they opted out. Current law allows people to opt in to voter registration during those transactions. Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, said her bill would make voting more efficient.

Full Article: House panel advances automatic voter registration bill | Capitol View | Minnesota Public Radio News.

Minnesota: Bid to get federal election security money picks up early in session | Minneapolis Star Tribune

One of 21 states whose elections systems Russian hackers targeted in 2016, Minnesota is still the only one unable to use federal money awarded to improve election security across the country. But an early victory this week in the House has Secretary of State Steve Simon optimistic that he will soon be able to access that money to update the state’s voter registration system, among other upgrades, in what could be one of the first pieces of legislation to reach Gov. Tim Walz’s desk. Two House measures seeking to utilize $6.6 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds made available to the state last year won quick passage in House committee this week. The proposals died last year after being tied up in a broad spending package Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed as part of a feud with legislators.

Full Article: Bid to get Minnesota federal election security money picks up early in session - StarTribune.com.

Minnesota: Cyber Security Experts say 2-Factor Authentication Crucial To Election Security | KSTP

Cyber security election experts say some Minnesota counties are not doing enough to protect their systems from hackers. A simple security measure of two-factor authentication used to protect emails, bank accounts and social media pages could help safeguard county computers from potential hacker stealing login information. Those experts say this is so important because this closely watched mid-term election is a prime target for hackers trying to disrupt the democratic process at all levels. “In 2016, we saw similar attacks and attempts to steal information log-in credentials and (that) might be valuable to someone who wants to influence the election,” said Reed Southard, a Harvard University researcher.

Full Article: Cyber Security Experts say 2-Factor Authentication Crucial To Election Security | KSTP.com.

Minnesota: Why one state targeted by Russians can’t use its federal election security funds | NBC

Minnesota, a swing state that has been attacked by foreign hackers more than once, has millions in federal funds to spend on election security ahead of the 2018 midterms — but will be the only state in the country that can’t touch that cash because of a standoff between Republicans and Democrats. Mark Ritchie, a Democrat who served as Minnesota’s secretary of state from 2007 to 2015, blamed the impasse on “partisan football,” and said that election interference “is either not being taken seriously or, what I fear, it’s the object of high alarm by some and for others, they’re just fine with it.” Minnesota was one of the 21 states targeted by the Russians in 2016. Ritchie has also described previous attacks on Minnesota’s online systems by foreign hackers to NBC News.

In March, Congress allocated $380 million in funding for election security to be distributed to the states by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Minnesota, which is slated to receive about $6.6 million, needed approval from both its Democratic governor and its state legislature, controlled by Republicans, before using the federal funding. But the legislative session ended in May without that approval.

Leading up to the end of the legislative session, Minnesota’s current secretary of state, Steve Simon, sounded the alarm about the funding. In addition to meeting with state leaders of both parties, he testified six times in front of Minnesota House and Senate committees.

Full Article: Why one state targeted by Russians can’t use its federal election security funds.

Full Article: Why one state targeted by Russians can't use its federal election security funds.

Minnesota: Legal dispute over Minnesota voting records will head to higher court | KARE

A legal battle over Minnesota voting records will head to higher court. Ramsey County District Judge Jennifer Frisch, who previously ordered Secretary of State Steve Simon to turn over the voter records to a nonprofit political group, agreed to stay her own ruling to give Simon a chance to appeal it. The Minnesota Voters Alliance asked for the voting records, in hopes of proving a theory that thousands of ineligible voters register on Election Day and then vote before their identity and eligibility is verified. If their eligibility is challenged after the fact, their vote has already counted.

Full Article: kare11.com | Voter records tussle headed to higher court.

Minnesota: Supreme Court strikes down Minnesota law on voter clothing | Star Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Minnesota law that prohibits people from wearing political clothing or buttons at polling places, calling the ban overly broad but leaving room for the state to impose narrower restrictions. The 7-2 ruling invalidating the particulars of Minnesota’s law left state and county officials who administer elections unsure what’s proper attire and what isn’t for the upcoming August primary and the November general election. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority that Minnesota’s law needed clearer parameters for both voters and election officials to avoid confusion and prevent potential violations of First Amendment free-speech rights. Roberts wrote that “the State must be able to articulate some sensible basis for distinguishing what may come in from what must stay out.”

Full Article: Supreme Court strikes down Minnesota law on voter clothing - StarTribune.com.

Minnesota: Veto Leaves Election Security Money in Limbo | Associated Press

Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of a massive budget bill means Minnesota can’t tap $6 million in federal funds for election cybersecurity until after the November elections. The federal government allocated the money earlier, but the Secretary of State’s office can’t spend it without legislative authorization. That authorization was in the budget bill Dayton vetoed Wednesday.Secretary of State Steve Simon says he repeatedly asked lawmakers to put the language in a non-controversial, stand-alone bill that Dayton would sign. But he says lawmakers chose the “riskiest path” by putting it instead in a bill Dayton repeatedly promised to veto.

Full Article: The Latest: Veto Leaves Election Security Money in Limbo | Minnesota News | US News.

Minnesota: Dayton Has Yet To Sign Omnibus Bill That Includes Money for Election Cyber Security | KSTP

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

Full Article: Dayton Has Yet To Sign Omnibus Bill That Includes Money for Election Cyber Security | KSTP.com.

Minnesota: Wait will go on for felons seeking return of voting rights | Minnesota Public Radio

By the narrowest of margins, a bill to return the right to vote for felons faster than would happen otherwise stalled again Thursday at the Capitol. The bill was put on hold following an 8-7 show of hands vote in the House Public Safety and Security Policy Committee, with Rep. Nick Zerwas joining all Democrats on the losing side. Zerwas, R-Elk River, is a bill cosponsor. The proposal could arise later as a potential amendment on the House floor to another bill, but the likelihood of success is slim. A companion measure has previously gotten through the Senate — though not since Republicans took control in 2017 — but the House has typically been the bigger struggle. The bill would change the law so felons would be able to vote once they are no longer incarcerated.

Full Article: Wait will go on for felons seeking return of voting rights | Capitol View | Minnesota Public Radio News.

Minnesota: Citing Russian threat, Secretary of State asking for $1.4 million to update voter registration system | Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Citing national security officials’ warnings that Minnesota’s voter database had already been targeted by elements “at the behest of the Russian government,” the secretary of state is asking for funding to update its statewide registration system. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said he’s been in multiple meetings with Department of Homeland Security officials — including a meeting as late as February — relating to foreign attempts to affect the integrity of Minnesota’s voting system. “They are sobering,” Simon said of the meetings, for which he was recently given “secret” security clearance — meaning, he said, he couldn’t give too many details. In 2016, entities associated with the Russian government targeted 21 states, including Minnesota, national security officials have said. Two of those states — Illinois and Arizona — had their state databases penetrated.

Full Article: Citing Russian threat, MN asking for $1.4 million to update voter registration system – Twin Cities.

Minnesota: Justices to hear challenge to Minnesota voting dress code | SCOTUSblog

In 2010, Andrew Cilek went to his local polling place in Hennepin County, Minnesota, to vote. Cilek was wearing a T-shirt that had three different images on it: the Tea Party logo, the message “Don’t Tread on Me,” and an image of the Gadsden flag, which dates back to the American Revolution but is often associated these days with the Tea Party and libertarianism. Cilek also wore a small button bearing the message “Please I.D. Me,” worn by opponents of voter fraud. An election worker in the polling place told Cilek he would have to cover up or take off the shirt and button. Cilek refused to do so, and later made two more attempts to enter the polling place. On his third try, he was allowed to vote, but an election worker took down his name and address.

Full Article: Argument preview: Justices to hear challenge to Minnesota voting dress code - SCOTUSblog.

Minnesota: State pushes for tighter cyber security in wake of 2016 election | Brainerd Dispatch

State officials are making a concerted effort to revamp Minnesota’s defenses against cyber attacks—a preemptive initiative for the 2018 election season and beyond. Secretary of State Steve Simon made his annual 87-county tour of the state, stopping in Brainerd last week to tout new developments to the state’s cyber security systems. Under his guidance, the state has mobilized a cyber security team, hired consultants to analyze cyber security improvements and partnered with agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to address areas of weakness.

Full Article: State pushes for tighter cyber security in wake of 2016 election | Brainerd Dispatch.

Minnesota: Counties get money for new equipment | Detroit Lakes Online

Time to upgrade that aging election equipment: Counties including Becker, Otter Tail, Wadena and Hubbard are taking advantage of $7 million in state matching grant money. It provides up to a 50 percent match for mandatory equipment, such as optical scan precinct counters, optical scan central counters, or assistive voting devices, and up to a 75 percent match for electronic rosters. Becker County asked for, and was granted $71,000 for new equipment. That means the county will have to kick in another $71,000 towards the total purchase price. “We will be using it for voting equipment, we will not be purchasing (electronic) poll books at this time,” said Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Mary Hendrickson.

Full Article: Party at the polls: Counties get money for new equipment | Detroit Lakes Online.

Minnesota: Secretary of state announces $7 million for new election equipment | Pioneer Press

Minnesota will spend $7 million on new voting equipment in 2018, but the state’s elections chief says cities and counties need a lot more help. Secretary of State Steve Simon announced the $7 million in grant funding for new election equipment that was the result of bipartisan legislation approved in 2017. The grants cover half the cost of mandatory equipment, like ballot counters, and 75 percent of the cost of electronic voter rosters.

Full Article: Minnesota secretary of state announces $7 million for new election equipment – Twin Cities.

Minnesota: When a T-Shirt Gets You in Trouble at the Voting Booth | The New York Times

Minnesota has a dress code for voting. The idea, the state says, is to create a safe space for democracy. To make sure voters are in a properly contemplative mood at their polling places on Election Day, the state bans T-shirts, hats and buttons that express even general political views, like support for gun rights or labor unions. The goal, state officials have said, is “an orderly and controlled environment without confusion, interference or distraction.” Critics say the law violates the principle at the core of the First Amendment: that the government may not censor speech about politics. They add that voters can be trusted to vote sensibly even after glancing at a political message. “A T-shirt will not destroy democracy,” a group challenging the law told the Supreme Court this month.

Full Article: When a T-Shirt Gets You in Trouble at the Voting Booth - The New York Times.

Minnesota: Supreme Court takes political clothing at polls case | Constitution Daily

On Monday, the Supreme Court accepted an appeal about the ability of a voter to wear clothing or campaign buttons at a polling place that endorses a political cause. The case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky had been before the nine Justices in private conference on five occasions until it was granted a court date. The question under consideration is if a Minnesota law that “broadly bans all political apparel at the polling place, facially overbroad under the First Amendment.” The law, Minnesota Statute Section 211B.11, actually prevents voters from  wearing political badges, political buttons, or other “political insignia” at polling places, because the messages communicated are “designed to influence and impact voting” or promote a “group with recognizable political views.” The controversy started when Andrew Cilek of Hennepin County was temporarily stopped from voting because he was wearing a t-shirt with a “Don’t Tread on Me” and a Tea Party slogan, and a button endorsing Voter ID policies from a group called Election Integrity Watch.

Full Article: Supreme Court takes political clothing at polls case - National Constitution Center.

Minnesota: Supreme Court to hear Minnesota voter apparel law challenge | Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a conservative group’s free speech challenge to a Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing T-shirts or other apparel adorned with overtly political messages inside polling stations. A group called the Minnesota Voters Alliance is appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold the law, which forbids political badges, buttons or other insignia inside polling places during primary or general elections. State election officials have interpreted the law as also barring campaign literature and material from groups with political views such as the conservative Tea Party movement or the liberal MoveOn.org. Violators are asked to cover up or remove offending items, but officials are instructed not to bar anyone from voting.

Full Article: Supreme Court to hear Minnesota voter apparel law challenge.

Minnesota: Minneapolis Voters Encounter Problems With New E-Poll Books | WCCO

The city of Minneapolis rolled out new technology on Election Day, meant to make the process of voting easier and faster, but some voters encountered a few hiccups. For the first time, the city is using e-poll books which allow election judges to verify voters using iPads instead of bulky paper books. Several voters told WCCO-TV they tried to cast their ballots early Tuesday morning at the Walker Church polling location in Minneapolis, but the iPad used to check voters in was unable to connect to the internet. One voter claims he waited for 20 minutes and had to come back to vote.

Full Article: Minneapolis Voters Encounter Problems With New E-Poll Books « WCCO | CBS Minnesota.