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We must act now to protect our democracy and our elections

Sen. Susan Kent

In this great state, we have a sense of civic responsibility when it comes to voting that is as Minnesotan as never taking the last piece of pie at the potluck. Voting is sacred, and Minnesotans never take for granted our opportunity to engage in the political process through the fundamental act of casting a ballot on Election Day – or in the weeks before Election Day, voting early by casting an absentee ballot, in person or by mail.

Minnesotans are proud of our voter registration system, which has been a model for the rest of the country. But the current national climate, with questions about Russian meddling in our elections, has given rise to questions about the security of voting systems in this country. We cannot take for granted the very real threats that foreign governments, errors, inaccuracies or other hacking pose to the security of our voting systems.

We must act now to protect our democracy and our proud tradition of civic engagement in Minnesota. Therefore, we have introduced the Secure Access for Minnesota Voters Act to ensure that Minnesota has the safest, most secure and most efficient elections that the 21st century can provide.

Rep. Laurie Halverson

The Secure Access for Minnesota Voters Act is a comprehensive set of voting reforms including:

  • Protecting the security of our elections from hacking and interference through hardware and software cybersecurity updates to safeguard Minnesota’s Voter Registration database from foreign governments messing with our elections. These updates include:   
    1. Investing $1.4 million over four years to upgrade and modernize the statewide voter registration database.
    2. Mandating cybersecurity training of elections officials.
    3. Requiring two-factor authentication for access to the statewide voter registration database.
    4. Investing in security upgrades to the statewide voter registration system — including a response to the analysis of vulnerabilities and recommendations provided by Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • Increasing security and access by creating an upgraded automatic and encrypted voter registration backbone that will allow us to invest in the most up-to-date anti-hacking and cybersecurity software possible. That system would electronically update all registration data any time eligible voters change their address or register to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or state ID. It updates our system to an electronic one so that we can get rid of the unnecessary paperwork and other costly mistakes. It also saves the state money and helps to create a secure, modern and efficient voter database.

  •  Increasing the accuracy of our voter rolls by expanding e-poll books to every county that wants them. E-poll books help eliminate errors by providing a secure, electronic system for maintaining and encrypting voter information.

What we don’t need to do in response to threats to our democracy is end proud and long-held traditions in our state like same-day voter registration. If we properly invest in our election security, we can continue to do things our way in Minnesota. We can continue to be a leader in the nation for access to voting, and we can have faith that our votes are counted and our voices heard.

Securing and modernizing our elections is not a partisan issue; it is a Minnesota issue. We are proud of our tradition of democratic participation, and rightly so. But we must act now to protect the security of our voting systems and preserve access to the polls for all Minnesotans who want to exercise their right to vote. Voting is both a right and a privilege, and the Secure Access for Minnesota Voters Act will help ensure that every eligible voter will have the opportunity to make their voice heard and their vote counted.

State Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, represents District 53 in the Senate. State Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, represents District 51B in the House.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/19/2018 - 10:35 am.

    These are great ideas but…

    All of these things were supposed to be a done deal years ago. Instead Democrats left them on the shelf when they had a chance to make them law. Now, as good as ideas as these are, they’ll like be dead on arrival in the Republican controlled legislature.

  2. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 03/19/2018 - 10:43 am.

    Election Security

    What is wrong with the system we have now? I smell another MNLARS disaster in the making. Part of this proposal is to eliminate paperwork and put it into an on-line database?? How does that make the system more secure and hacker proof?? There’s nothing more hacker proof than paper files.

    Let’s not start any more IT projects until we get the MNLARS mess cleaned up.

  3. Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 03/19/2018 - 12:36 pm.

    These are great ideas and…

    As long as we maintain backup paper voter registration books in case of power outage, paper ballots (of course that’s what they mean), and the vote audit that follows elections, we can continue to have the best election system and record of any state. Bravo, ladies!

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/19/2018 - 04:31 pm.

    protect the vote..

    I want my vote protected from illegal hacking and illegal voting.

  5. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 03/20/2018 - 12:58 am.

    Oregon

    Why not follow the lead of Oregon, which has made voting convenient for its residents. Eligible voters can register online or by mail. Approximately 3 weeks before the election date a paper ballot is mailed to them, which can be signed and returned in a security envelope.
    Many democratic governments in the world have eliminated voting machines, since they can be so easily manipulated. We should do the same in the USA.

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