Simon: Congress must spend more on election security

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon made a pitch to Congress Wednesday for more money to aid election security efforts across the country.

Simon, part of a group of state election officials testifying on election security, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration that while he was pleased with the $6.6 million already on its way to Minnesota, ongoing federal money was needed to fight the ongoing threat of election-system hacking.

“There is no end zone where you get to spike the ball. There is no tape that you get to cross,” Simon said. “You always have to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, and the bad guys get smarter every year. And by the way, some of them are funded by foreign governments with virtually unlimited resources.”

Minnesota was among 21 states targeted by Russian hackers in 2016.

Simon said he believes Minnesota’s use of paper ballots is a “huge advantage” for warding off such attacks and keeping the election system secure. He said more states are now returning to that “old school” approach.

“It’s very hard to hack paper,” he said.

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the panel’s ranking Democrat, is co-sponsoring legislation aimed at protecting federal elections from cybersecurity threats. The measure would establish minimum security standards for states and provide funding for system upgrades.

Klobuchar said the integrity of the democracy is at stake.

“Hack us once, shame on them, hack us twice, shame on us, if we don’t do anything about it,” Klobuchar said. “We know it happened, and we know it will happen again.”