Simon welcomes Trump order on election meddling

Minnesota’s top elections official welcomed a new presidential directive about rooting out foreign interference in this year’s elections, but Secretary of State Steve Simon also prodded people to fight back against meddling by simply showing up to vote.

Simon, a DFLer, issued a statement hours after President Donald Trump’s executive order on deterring interference. The imperative will rely somewhat on local and state officials helping determine if that interference occurs. And it would sanction foreign governments or individuals determined to have participated in any plot to sway races or voting tabulation.

In his order, Trump said attempts to tamper with elections or covertly spread propaganda pose “an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

He goes on to say, “Although there has been no evidence of a foreign power altering the outcome or vote tabulation in any United States election, foreign powers have historically sought to exploit America’s free and open political system.”

The order requires an intelligence assessment within 45 days of this year’s election. The Department of Justice and FBI will be monitoring reports of meddling on Election Day.

The moves come amid an ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Simon said Minnesota has been working to shore up its cyber-defenses and welcomes the stronger presidential stand — to a point.

“More than two years after the Russian government attempted unsuccessfully to breach Minnesota’s elections systems, today’s announcement is a long-delayed response that barely scratches the surface,” Simon said in a written statement.

Simon offered voters another way to counter outside shenanigans.

“The best rebuttal to Russia that Minnesotans can offer is to continue to lead the nation in voter participation,” Simon said.