Minnesota Secretary Of State - Minnesota Secretary of State Holds First Elections Security Training of 2024
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Minnesota Secretary of State Holds First Elections Security Training of 2024

January 11, 2024

Election officials from 50 counties attended the half-day tabletop training exercise

CAMP RIPLEY, MN – Election officials from across Minnesota gathered with state and federal partners at Camp Ripley in Morrison County to train on how to respond to emergency scenarios that could impact election administration - including cyberattacks, disinformation schemes, physical security threats, and weather emergencies.

“Rapidly advancing technology that can be used by bad actors to spread disinformation or launch sophisticated cyberattacks is changing the way we think about elections security,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. “Elections are a team sport and trainings like this allow us to reflect on our roles and how each of us can strengthen our partnerships to prepare for the future.”

A total of 152 attendees with 50 counties were represented at the half-day election security tabletop training exercise on January 10, 2024. Attendees worked together to respond to each scenario, reviewing and updating emergency plans.

In addition to testing and updating emergency response plans, the training also ensures open lines of communication between agencies and creates stronger relationships to improve standard practices.

“Within one election cycle, we’ve seen the creation and rise of chatbots and deepfakes powered by artificial intelligence,” said Bill Ekblad, Election Security Navigator for the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. “This event highlights the need for all partners in elections to continuously evaluate their plans.”

This training was the first in 2024, as administrators prepare for three statewide elections, including the Presidential General Election in November. It was facilitated by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security.

“CISA is proud to support state and local election officials in Minnesota and around the country as they work tirelessly to ensure the security and integrity of our electoral process,” said CISA’s Senior Election Security Advisor Cait Conley. “The scope and scale of participation in yesterday’s tabletop exercise highlighted the incredible commitment and professionalism of Minnesota election officials and the numerous offices across the state who support and enable the safe and secure conduct of Minnesota elections. This exercise is an example of the training and preparation against the range of cyber, physical, and foreign influence operation and disinformation threats that are critical to ensuring the security and resilience of 2024 elections.”

Representatives from the Minnesota Fusion Center, the Office of Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota IT Services, the Minnesota National Guard, the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were also in attendance.