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.