The Minnesota House voted last week to unlock $6.6 million in federal money to secure the state’s election technological infrastructure against cyber threats.

Minnesota is among the last states to claim its share of the Help America Vote Act, at a time when local election officials say the state faces increasing threats of attacks on election systems.

“It’s no secret that our elections have been targeted by bad actors,” said Rep. Michael Nelson, D-Brooklyn Park. “It’s time for us to take seriously the threats against our democracy by passing the Help America Vote Act so Minnesotans can more easily participate in safe, secure elections.”

The Senate, however, isn’t convinced the state needs all the money, at least initially.

Last March, the federal government set aside $380 million in grants, allowing each state to claim its share. Minnesota’s portion is $6.6 million, but Secretary of State Steve Simon is not able to access the money until the Legislature signs off.

The money will be used for modernizing the state’s voter registration system, training local election officials and boosting security for election technology.

Senate Republicans are backing a more limited plan that would unlock about $1.5 million initially while leaving the rest up for later budget talks. The Senate is expected to take up its measure Monday.

Staff Report