GEORGIA SUED FOR ELECTION VULNERABILITY, SO GEORGIA ERASES ELECTION SERVER WITH ALL VOTING DATA
The State of Georgia has thrust itself into the spotlight of voter shenanigans from last year’s Presidential Election, in quite a bad way. It has come to light that a server served as a central data hub for Georgia’s elections was wiped, intentionally erased, this past summer. The loss of this information could hugely set back a forensic investigation to establish whether the server had been compromised by hackers in last year’s election. In other words, there were serious concerns that the vote count was even remotely accurate, and this may prevent our knowing whether voters in Georgia had their votes counted properly, or at all.
SERVER ERASED FOUR DAYS AFTER SUIT FILED AGAINST GEORGIA LAST SUMMER, ONLY KNOWN A WEEK AGO
The erasure was publicly discovered last week in an email from an associate state attorney general sent to a group that is suing the State of Georgia in effort to force more security measures to be implemented into the State’s election system. The timeline does not look good, as the lawsuit was filed last July 3rd and the data was destroyed four days later on July 7th. TO make things look even more nefarious, the backups of the server were also destroyed a month later in August.
ALL BACKUPS ALSO ERASED A MONTH LATER, SUGGESTING A COVERUP BY GEORGIA OFFICIALS HIDING VOTER HACKING
“The lawsuit was filed, and right after the lawsuit was filed, they wiped their server. After it was moved to federal court, they did it again,” said Marian Schneider, the president of Verified Voting, which is an organization that advocates for election security and which has worked with the group of Georgia advocates involved in the lawsuit, told media.
Even though the deleted data wasn’t under any preservation order from the court, Schneider, who is a former election official in Pennsylvania, also said that the server still should not have been wiped. “As a former state government employee, you can’t do that,” she elaborated. “You have to preserve governmental records if you are an arm of the state government.”
SUIT SEEKS TO AT LEAST GET RID OF TOUCHSCREEN VOTING MACHINES, LONG KNOWN TO BE VULNERABLE WITH NO PAPER TALLY
One of the primary goals of the lawsuit is to force Georgia to scrap its touchscreen voting machines, as they don’t create a paper record of votes that can be audited and so confirmed. Other states, including even historically conservative Virginia, have moved to decertify these vulnerable touchscreen voting machines.
FBI MAY HAVE ITS OWN COPY OF SERVER DATA BUT WILL NOT COMMENT NOR COMFIRM. WHAT IS THERE TO HIDE?
The Georgia plaintiffs had hoped the server would be able to provide evidence of security problems in the state’s election system, according to the AP, but now their chances of getting a forensic review from the server are moot. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation just might be sitting on a copy; the agency had imaged the server last March when it was even then investigating a possible data breach. The FBI so far has declined to tell the AP whether it still has its copy.
“What it points out is that when you have these machines that don’t have a paper record of voter intent, when something does happen, if you do detect it, you have no way of recovering from it,” Schneider said.
GEORGIA KNEW ITS SYSTEMS WERE VILNERABLE, TOOK NO ACTION BEFORE ELECTION
Even though it’s hard to know for sure since the server has been erased, it’s more than possible that hackers meddled with it during the election cycle. Logan Lamb, who is a security researcher, had found millions of voter records as well as login information for poll workers publicly available online in 2016. He then warned Georgia election officials about the data exposure, but it was left unaddressed and still vulnerable for months.
GEORGIA WON’T SAY WHY DATA ERASED, WON’T SAY WHO ERASED IT, WON’T SAY MUCH AT ALL
It’s as yet not exactly clear why Georgia officials decided to wipe the server. A spokesperson for Georgia’s secretary of state has said that her office wasn’t involved in the move, and Kennesaw State University, which physically maintains the server, has declined to comment to the AP.
But choosing to destroy the public record in the midst of a lawsuit doesn’t look good at all. Marilyn Marks, who is the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, which is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, explained to the AP, “I don’t think you could find a voting systems expert who would think the deletion of the server data was anything less than insidious and highly suspicious.”