But Election Day itself was smooth in Minnesota, with no major confrontations reported.

But Election Day itself was smooth in Minnesota, with no major confrontations reported.


Illustration of an exclamation point sign contrasted with abstract ballot elements

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Minnesota’s top election official says he is not aware of any specific, credible threats targeting the state’s midterm elections, but local and state officials remain “on alert.”

The big picture: The FBI and Homeland Security issued two warnings about threats to election workers and voter intimidation earlier this month.

  • The FBI singled out states that experienced public disputes, recounts and audits in 2020, including Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Minnesota was not listed.

Threat level: Secretary of State Steve Simon tells Axios that while “there is less overall risk in Minnesota than there is in other places,” the FBI’s warning “compels us to be ready for those things wherever we can.”

What they’re doing: Earlier this year, the Secretary of State’s office expanded the role of its cyber security navigator, a former Naval officer who has worked in intelligence, to also focus on physical election security.

  • The goal, Simon said, is to “make sure that the people administering elections are safe.”

Zoom in: On the local level, election workers at a number of county and municipal offices have participated in de-escalation or security training offered by a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

  • “We are certainly keeping an eye on the national temperature going into this midterm, which is obviously very polarized,” Christiaan Cartwright, the elections manager for the city of Rochester, said.
  • Election workers in Hennepin and Ramsey counties have also been offered security-related training.

What they’re saying: “The best option is to just listen and make people feel heard,” said Crow Wing County administrator Tim Houle, whose office and local government has been inundated with fraud claims from local activists. “Folks don’t expect to get their way all the time, but they expect to be heard.”

Between the lines: Unlike other states, Minnesota law limits activities at and around polling places — each major party is only allowed one observer inside or within 100 feet of a voting site.

  • Those rules may help prevent major conflicts or disruptions on Election Day, Simon said.

Flashback: High tension heading into the presidential election sparked concerns over voter intimidation and possible conflicts over masking rules.

  • But Election Day itself was smooth in Minnesota, with no major problems reported.


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Jorge Oliveira

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