After news broke last week that the CEO of the elections software company Konnech was arrested by the Los Angeles County district attorney on suspicion of theft of personal information charges, municipalities across the country have ended their contract with the firm.
But oddly, DeKalb County, Georgia, has decided to keep its relationship with Konnech. In a 3-2 party-line vote on Monday, the DeKalb County Elections Board voted to maintain its contract with Konnech — on the condition that poll worker data be hosted on the county’s servers instead.
DeKalb signed a one-year contract for Konnech’s PollChief software just last month. PollChief provides an online portal that allows election staff to manage, train, and pay poll workers. Poll workers must set up an account on the portal to gain access to training. That means Konnech has access to poll workers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, financials, and passwords on their servers, creating a string of sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII) for each poll worker.
“Most people are not conscientious about their passwords,” Marci McCarthy, chairman of the DeKalb Republican Party, told The Federalist. “So, you are giving an alleged data thief the credentials, perhaps to your bank account, email, or social media. It doesn’t take much to use someone’s personal email address and the password they use to log into another account.”
Konnech’s access to such data is why L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon arrested Konnech CEO Eugene Yu for allegedly storing confidential poll worker information on servers located in the People’s Republic of China, in contradiction of Konnech’s contract with L.A. County. (A day prior to Yu’s arrest, The New York Times wrote a lengthy puff piece praising the Konnech CEO while labeling anyone who expressed concerns over the company’s potential connections to China an “election denier.” The next day, the paper of record had to issue an embarrassing correction.)
By keeping its contract with Konnech, McCarthy believes DeKalb County is risking a class-action lawsuit.
“DeKalb County is custodian of all its employees’ data, yet it cannot guarantee that this data has not already been compromised,” McCarthy said. “They have to prove that their data has not been compromised. DeKalb’s own contract with Konnech says they cannot store data outside of the United States. If DeKalb is knowingly continuing with a contract that allegedly stores poll worker data outside of the country, then they are complicit in an accessory to a data theft con.”
While DeKalb County says it will be storing poll worker data on a “DeKalb County-controlled Microsoft Azure Government” server, William Quinn, a Georgia resident with a background in business and I.T., is skeptical of Azure’s security.
“As I understand it, the [Azure’s] server could exist really anywhere across the country, sometimes around the world. Does that really increase security?” Quinn told The Federalist.
In fact, Azure does not guarantee PollChief. At the bottom of DeKalb’s poll worker application on the PollChief portal, there’s a disclaimer that states Azure is not liable for poll worker’s data.
“This content is created by the owner of the form. The data you submit will be sent to the form owner. Microsoft is not responsible for the privacy or security practices of its customers, including those of this form owner. Never give out your password,” the disclaimer reads.
Despite such questions being raised during the special meeting held by the DeKalb County Board of Elections, board members disregarded citizen concerns and voted to keep their contract with Konnech.
“I am astounded and outraged that our Democrats here in DeKalb County have disregarded our poll workers’ cyber safety,” McCarthy said.
In the wake of Yu’s arrest, the city of Detroit, Michigan, and Fairfax County, Virginia, have terminated their contract with Konnech.