Minnesota Moves to Modernize Its Electoral Machinery

Minnesota Moves to Modernize Its Electoral Machinery

In a win for electoral infrastructure, Minnesota’s latest State Government Finance Bill creates a $7 million fund to upgrade the state’s voting equipment.

New Fund Will Help Pay for More Secure Machines

In a win for electoral infrastructure, Minnesota has created a $7 million fund to upgrade the state’s voting equipment. The bill, authored by State Rep. Tim O’Driscoll, R-Sartell, and State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, comes as Minnesota, along with states including Texas, California, and Ohio, suffers from aging and malfunctioning machines.  

Decrepit voting machines have been a problem in recent national, state and local elections; an update will go a long way toward preventing these systemic failures.  Outdated technology is more likely to break down, and more vulnerable to hacking.  In the 2016 general election, Russian hackers penetrated voter rolls in “more than 20 state election systems.”  Continuing use of outdated machinery only makes it easier for foreign hackers to manipulate our elections, an extraordinarily threatening prospect.  

Modern voting equipment also serves as a counter to President Trump’s already baseless accusations of voter fraud. By upgrading equipment, state governments can assure citizens that much of the supposed evidence of widespread voter fraud simply was the product of broken machines.  

The Minnesota bill was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 30, and according to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, is a “critical and necessary investment” in the future of the state’s electoral processes. Simon, who has been fighting for such a fund, stressed in March that modern voting equipment is, “very important to . . . smooth operation of elections.” Although $7 million will not eradicate the problem – a total statewide replacement is expected to cost $28 million – it sets an example for the rest of the country.

Following the widespread problems in the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA). While HAVA provided federal funds to assist with “the replacement of voting machines, voter registration reform, better access to voting for the disabled and poll working training,” its success has been limited.  Initiatives from states like Minnesota are gaining steam amidst a crumbling foundation threatened by multiple elements.