Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Georgia Election Server Wiped After Lawsuit Was Filed, Report Says

A computer server crucial to a lawsuit claiming Georgia officials persisted in using antiquated voting technology despite fears the election could be hacked hacked, has been erased, a published report says.

ATLANTA (CN) - A computer server crucial to a lawsuit claiming Georgia officials persisted in using antiquated voting technology despite fears the election could be hacked, has been erased, a published report says.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that it learned of the wiping of data from the server through emails the plaintiffs secured through an open records request.

Those emails said the server's data was destroyed by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state's election system, four days after the lawsuit was filed.

The AP said additional emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wiping of the data.

The Coalition for Good Governance and Georgians for Verified Voting, both of which advocate for voting transparency, sued Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3, claiming the officials used a 15-year-old, direct-recording electronic voting system despite knowing the machines were vulnerable to being hacked.

“There are serious flaws in the paperless, aged, DRE system in Georgia,” the plaintiffs said. “So much so that the current system should not be used for casting and counting any federal, state or local election. It is not transparent. It is not secure. We the voters cannot verify that votes have been counted as cast.”

The case was removed to federal court in August. The proceedings are pending.

But in early October, the attorney general’s office informed the plaintiffs’ attorneys that the two servers had been wiped in early March, before the litigation even began, according to Marilyn Marks, executive director of The Coalition for Good Governance.

“We were shocked,” Marks said. “Why would you have wiped your servers when you knew you had all the problems of the servers being compromised in the November election?”

Marks subsequently filed a Freedom of Information Act request in October in an attempt to get more of the files, which was delayed, she says.

Instead, Marks’ attorneys received an email from the attorney general’s office saying they’d made a mistake and they hadn’t deleted the servers in March as previously stated. Rather, they’d deleted the servers in July and August.

“They deleted the servers after we filed our first lawsuit in state court and then again after we were moved to federal court … Innocent people don’t do that,” Marks said.

The DRE system was used in the presidential election, and in two special Congressional elections in April and June.

“We knew the system was corrupted and compromised. What we did not know is how deeply corrupt it was, how deeply vulnerable it was, and that the defendants knew that and they went ahead with the three elections anyway,” Marks said.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs demanded Georgia overturn the June 20 election due to indeterminable results gathered through the voting system employed in the election.

They also sought to block the use of the voting system for the November municipal election, and asked the court to order a review of the system to determine its vulnerability to being hacked.

“There are numerous concerns that we have about what’s going to be left available to do forensic work on,” Marks said. “It’s very, very obvious that the voting system that’s been compromised.”

In a lengthy written statement Kemp said, “The Secretary of State's office had no involvement in this decision, and we would never direct someone to take such action. This pattern of reckless behavior is exactly why we are ending our relationship with KSU and the Center for Elections Systems and moving functionality in-house.”

“Our voting system is secure, but it needs replacement. ... It is not, however, an action that can be taken independently by this Secretary of State or a future one absent a major change in the law. We need a substantial appropriation - millions and millions of dollars - from the General Assembly and buy-in from the Governor's Office to make this change,” the statement said.

Categories / Government, Politics, Regional, Technology

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.