Minnesota's elections chief gets 'secret' security clearance

Steve Simon will be able to access classified information.
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As the investigation into hacking and foreign involvement in the 2016 elections rumbles on, attention is turning to protecting the upcoming mid-terms.

It was revealed earlier this month that Minnesota was one of 21 states targeted by election hackers in 2016, though fortunately they were unsuccessful.

Now efforts are being made to increase communications between national intelligence agencies and state-level election officials ahead of November's elections, to ensure states can react in a timely manner when a security threat presents itself.

The New York Times reported this week that this includes giving security clearances to state election officials so they can receive classified information – noting that so far 20 officials across the country have got that clearance.

And one of them is Minnesota's own secretary of state Steve Simon, who the Associated Press reports was given the clearance level of "secret" this month, which is one level below "top secret."

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– Minnesota was targeted by election hackers in 2016.

Simons has been leading the calls for Minnesota to improve its security measures as the prospect of cyber attacks on election systems grows more real by the day.

Earlier this month he welcomed a report by state auditors that found Minnesota's election registration system is in urgent need of an upgrade, as well as changes at the county level to better identify ineligible voters.

When the federal budget bill was passed and signed this week, Simon praised the decision to include $380 million for election security.

"These funds, which will be distributed to the states by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, will enable Minnesota to continue our efforts to enhance the security of our elections systems, both at the state and local level," he said.

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