After arrest, DeKalb ponders how to proceed with election officials’ software

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According to the office of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Yu was taken into custody Monday near his company headquarters. The district attorney’s office said that, as part of its five-year contract with LA County, Konnech was “supposed to securely hold” the personal information of local election officials and ensure that “only U.S. citizens and permanent residents have access to it”.

Investigators reportedly discovered that “in contradiction to the contract”, some information was instead stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.

The office of Gascón — a Democrat who in August narrowly avoided facing a recall election — later told the New York Times that investigators “have reason to believe that personal information about election workers was been “criminally mishandled”.

Little additional information was provided.

The arrest, however, follows months of election deniers and conspiracy theorists, including the group known as True the Vote, targeting Yu and his company with similar allegations and claims of secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Konnech has repeatedly denied the allegations, going so far as to take legal action against True the Vote – which has publicly claimed to have hacked into Konnech’s systems and accessed the data of 2 million voters.

This week, the company described Yu as wrongfully detained.

DeKalb County, meanwhile, joined the handful of major US jurisdictions using Konnech’s services on September 8, when it finalized a one-year contract worth $76,000.

Election officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that the county was “only in the initial phase of implementation with the company” and that “all implementation activity has stopped” since the start of the process. announcement of Yu’s arrest.

The county board of elections plans to hold a special meeting to discuss the way forward at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Early voting for the November election — which is light on local DeKalb contests but filled with hotly contested federal and state races — begins just a week later.

Lowman Smith, the Democratic chairman of an election-running board in a deep blue county, said the county was at an impasse.

She said there wasn’t enough “meat” from California prosecutors to draw any concrete conclusions about the case or even the allegations. She’s also not sure it’s possible to “get enough assurances” to feel comfortable going ahead with Konnech’s software – and capturing data from poll workers. in the system.

But is there enough time to move on?

“The department needs this system,” Lowman Smith said. “We didn’t do this as a fun to have.”

The size and complexity of elections have become “almost unmanageable” without specialized technology, she said. And the office of elections has previously had problems getting election workers paid on time using the county’s broader payroll system.

In a letter sent to the Board of Elections on Wednesday afternoon, DeKalb GOP Chair Marci McCarthy reminded members that she had raised questions about Konnech — which mostly echoed True the Vote’s claims — during their September meeting.

She asked for the termination of the contract.

“The DeKalb Elections Office is committed to ensuring the physical safety of its election officers and election staff,” McCarthy told AJC. “They should do the right thing and extend their cybersecurity to the digital world and protect their personally identifiable information.”

McCarthy’s counterpart in DeKalb’s Democrats, John Jackson, said he was confident that election officials “have and will continue to exercise due diligence.”

Lowman Smith pointed out that the county is following procurement guidelines and seeking advice from subject matter experts — including the office of Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, who said he’s heard good things about Konnech.

“It was transparent, open, whatever was meant to happen happened,” she said. “There’s nothing we could have done differently other than looking to the future.”

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