APNewsBreak: Georgia election server wiped after suit filed – October 26, 2017
A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned.
The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe.
By FRANK BAJAK | October 26, 2017
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he lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology. The server in question, which served as a statewide staging location for key election-related data, made national headlines
in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn’t fixed six months after he reported it to election authorities.
It’s not clear who ordered the server’s data irretrievably erased.
The Kennesaw elections center answers to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, a Republican running for governor in 2018 and the suit’s main defendant. His spokeswoman issued a statement Thursday saying his office had neither involvement nor advanced warning of the decision. It blamed “the undeniable ineptitude” at the Kennesaw State elections center.
After declining comment for more than 24 hours, Kennesaw State’s media office issued a statement late Thursday attributing the server wiping to “standard operating procedure.” It did not respond to the AP’s question on who ordered the action.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, mostly Georgia voters, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system — particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, hackable devices that don’t use paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of voter intent. The plaintiffs were counting on an independent security review of the Kennesaw server, which held elections staging data for counties, to demonstrate the system’s unreliability.
Wiping the server “forestalls any forensic investigation at all,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist following the case. “People who have nothing to hide don’t behave this way.”
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