E-voting Server Wiped Clean after Lawsuit Challenges E-voting Machines’ Reliability and Outcome of Sixth District Race
(APN) ATLANTA — A new revelation has sent shockwaves statewide and may be the final nail in the coffin of Georgia’s faith-based electronic voting regime.
For years, Atlanta Progressive News has reported that Georgia’s E-voting technology is fundamentally flawed and insecure, and contains no independent mechanism to recount the votes made by Georgia voters.
Now, the Associated Press revealed on yesterday, October 26, 2017, that the Kennesaw State University’s Center for Elections Systems improperly wiped a server clean shortly after six Georgia voters and a nonprofit organization fled a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s E-voting system.
The Coalition for Good Governance and six Georgia voters filed the lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court on July 03, 2017.
It challenges the results of the June 20, 2017 Special Election held for Georgia’s Sixth U.S. Congressional District, in which Republican Karen Handel purportedly received more votes than Jon Ossoff, a Democrat.
The individuals Plaintiffs in the case are Donna Curling, Donna Price, Jeffrey Schoenberg, Laura Digges, William Digges III, and Ricardo Davis.
The lawsuit states “the system is fundamentally insecure and illegally employed, and cannot be reasonably relied upon to record and count votes properly.”
Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, D.C., a prominent international law firm, has joined plaintiffs on a pro bono basis.
The lawsuit claims that Georgia’s Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touchscreen voting system has security flaws that can allow hackers to enter, and lacks verifiable paper ballot; and that because of these problems, the outcome of the June 20 runoff cannot be known.
The lawsuit claims federal violations of the U.S. Constitution’s requirements of Equal Protection and Due Process; and state violations of the Georgia Constitution and several provisions in the Georgia code.
The Georgia code violations include the fact that Secretary Kemp has failed to recertify the machines for the seven year period in which he has been in office; and that he failed to use paper ballots to conduct the Special Election, even though there were known security flaws with a E-voting system.
The last time the system was certified was in 2007 or ten years ago.
As previously reported by APN, some of the same Georgia voters filed a lawsuit on May 26, 2017 attempting to prevent the Special Election from being conducted using E-voting equipment.
However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams dismissed the lawsuit on June 09 because she opined that Secretary Kemp had sovereign immunity with respect to state claims, and that the original complaint did not contain federal claims.
The new lawsuit adds the federal claims.
There is no dispute that the current E-voting system’ lacks any independent means, such as a paper trail, to verify voters’ choices.
Georgia’s election system vulnerabilities have been documented for fifteen years by experts and computer scientists; and these vulnerabilities have been ignored that long by both Georgia’s Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State, including Cathy Cox, Karen Handel, and Kemp.
When voters cannot trust that their vote will be accurately counted and recorded, it violates the very foundation of democracy.
A statistical analysis of the Special Election Run-off Results conducted by elections integrity activist Garland Favorito, suggests disproportionate Republican support for Karen Handel in E-voting results versus mail-in results.
SERVER WIPED CLEAN, BUT COULD BE BACK-UP COPY
The information that was improperly deleted from the server had been sought by the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit as part of the discovery process.
“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,” Secretary Kemp said in a statement.
“Not only did KSU officials fail to notify us of the server’s vulnerabilities when they first learned of the problem, they failed again to notify us when they decided to wipe the compromised server and the back-up server. We will not stand for this kind of inexcusable conduct or gross incompetence,” Kemp said.
Plaintiff Marilyn Marks is hopeful that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) still has a copy of the server from when they previously investigated a breach of the KSU Center’s website.
The State Attorney General’s Office and Kemp’s Office are both also seeking the server copy from the FBI.
“Earlier today, we opened an internal investigation on this new incident at KSU… The Secretary of State’s office is also coordinating with FBI officials to get our own copy of the data that was erased at KSU,” Kemp said.
“As noted by the subpoena filed today by the Attorney General’s Office, the data and information that was on the server in question has been and is still in the possession of the FBI and will remain available to the parties in the event it is determined to be relevant in the pending litigation,” Marks said.
HISTORY OF HACKS AND EXPOSED VULNERABILITIES
Safety and accuracy concerns outlined in the lawsuit, which have also been covered in depth by APN, include:
The infiltration of Georgia’s DRE Voting System via Center for Elections Systems (CES) public webpage by Logan Lamb in August 2016 and again in March 2017 by Chris Grayson.
Lamb, a Georgia computer security expert, disclosed that from August 2016 to March 2017 Georgia’s voting system was left open on the Internet without password protection. These problems call into question the results of the June 2017 Run-off Special Election.
Critical security vulnerabilities and deficiencies were identified prior to the Special Election and Runoff at CES.
On May 24, 2017, sixteen computer scientists wrote Defendant Kemp to express profound concerns about the lack of variability and unacceptable security of Georgia’s DRE voting system.
All the warnings from computer experts appear to have been ignored with apparently no actions taken on the part of the Defendants to correct problems.
Failures in the DRE machines caused improper memory cards to be uploaded into the election database during the Special Election.
According to the lawsuit, Fulton County transmits ballot data from touchscreen machine memory cards to the Global Election Management System (GEMS) via modem in an unauthorized configuration that does not use adequate encryption.
The physical security of DRE machines have been inadequate during pre and post-election machine storage, leaving the machines vulnerable to attack and compromise.
The DRE voting system does not meet minimum standards, including mandatory audit capacity standards, the lawsuit claims.
The DRE is fifteen years old; and relies upon a database that is outdated, inadequate, and runs on an operating system that is past its support life.
“As the facts of the case are presented, voters will be appalled at the reckless actions of election officials. Secretary Kemp and all the named election officials received repeated grave warnings from voting systems experts concerning the likely compromise of the system and the compelling need to use paper ballots,” Marks said.
“Officials ignored the compelling evidence of the problems and concealed them from the public as they made false assurances about the security of the system,” Marks concluded.
The lawsuit names as defendants Secretary Kemp, the State Board of Elections, all county election officials conducting the Special Election, and KSU’s Center and its director Merle King.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2017)