SAINT PAUL — Governor Tim Walz and Secretary of State Steve Simon today announced that Minnesota has been selected as one of only six states to participate in the National Governors Association's (NGA) Policy Academy on Election Cybersecurity. With only 226 days before the next statewide election, election cybersecurity remains the greatest threat to the integrity of Minnesota’s election system.
“With one of the highest voting rates in the country, Minnesota is filled with engaged citizens who care deeply about democracy,” said Governor Walz. “Minnesotans understand that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and that risking the integrity of our elections is not an option. That’s why I’m committed to finding security solutions for any existing and future threats to our elections.”
“Investing in democracy is restless work,” said Secretary Simon. “Critical to this work is collaboration, partnership, and a shared understanding of the threats we face. I am confident that this bipartisan intrastate policy academy will help all Minnesotans develop an appreciation for the very real threats to our election cybersecurity. I am grateful to Governor Walz for partnering with me on this endeavor and look forward to working collaboratively to harden Minnesota’s election cybersecurity before voters head to the polls in January 2020, and beyond.”
Election security is not something that one agency can solve, nor is it an area that can ever be fully or finally addressed. The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State (OSS) has worked diligently for many years to enhance election cybersecurity, and recently to invest federal funding released last month by the legislature for election security, but the capabilities and resources of the OSS are limited and at capacity. Cyber threats across Minnesota’s digital infrastructure, including in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties, mean that broad and evolving solutions are needed to address the broad and ever-changing threat.
The resources and expertise available in the Governor’s administration are well positioned to help support Minnesota’s election cybersecurity and readiness, both at the state and local level. Minnesota is one of a few states with a National Guard Cyber Protection Team. In addition, Minnesota Department of IT Services is uniquely positioned to assist with expertise at both the state and local level. The Governor’s administration and the Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of IT Services, and Department of Public Safety have expertise, resources, and capabilities that, with planning and coordination, could significantly strengthen the security posture of Minnesota’s election systems.
The NGA National Policy Academy on Election Cybersecurity is a bipartisan intrastate group that will work to improve coordination around election cybersecurity and develop a statewide response plan for attacks on election infrastructure. The NGA policy academy will run from June to December of this year. It is supported by the University of Southern California, the National Association of State Election Directors and the National Association of Secretaries of State, with financial support from the Democracy Fund.
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