Election judges testing Minnesota ballot machines

Published 10:03 pm Monday, October 29, 2018

ST. PAUL — Election judges are testing ballot machines at hundreds of polling places across Minnesota to make sure the Nov. 6 election goes off without a hitch.

Election judges feed paper ballots into ballot machines to check if markings are being read properly. The machines are also tested to make sure they’ll appropriately flag ballots that are marked improperly.

The accuracy testing process is legally required and must also be open to the public.

“It’s an important way for the public to have even more confidence than it already does in the transparency of our system and the honesty and fundamental competence of our system,” said Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Simon said the paper-based, decentralized method makes Minnesota’s voting system less vulnerable to attacks since it’s “very hard to hack paper.” The state has 4,100 polling places and more than 31,000 election judges, he said.

“Ultimately the votes are cast and counted at the local level,” Simon said. “That’s part of what makes our system so good and so effective.”

Simon asked the state Legislature earlier this year to unlock more than $6 million in federal funding to improve the state’s election security. Gov. Mark Dayton ultimately vetoed the move because it was part of a budget bill that included other provisions he opposed.

Simon said he has a “high degree of confidence” in the state’s cyber security despite not receiving the additional funds.

“We are where we are and we have the tools we need to make the system as secure as it possibly can be,” he said.

Minnesota’s races include an open governor’s seat, four congressional races and two U.S. Senate seats. Simon is also seeking re-election.