Georgia Attorney General Won’t Defend Election Officials in Lawsuit Over Wiped Electoral Server


Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Photo: AP

Worried about whether or not U.S. elections are weak to outdoors interference? On Wednesday, tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google testified that their platforms had been used to unfold Russian misinformation and propaganda to thousands and thousands of potential voters in 2016. But right here’s a case that illustrates how the struggling technical techniques that run elections on a neighborhood stage may very well be simply as a lot of a priority sooner or later as effectively.

In July, a lawsuit alleged that pc techniques in Georgia containing the private info of 6.7 million voters in addition to election officers’ pbadwords had been riddled with safety vulnerabilities—and that authorities accountable for the databases failed to repair them inside six months of being notified. Three days later, Georgia officers conveniently wiped the state’s election knowledge, probably stopping any investigation whether or not the server was certainly meddled with. As Slate famous, the incident may solely be defined as both an “incredible act of incompetence” or a deliberate try to cowl up the difficulty on the similar time Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Georgia’s high election official, runs for governor.

Another curious improvement within the case on Wednesday: According to the Associated Press, the Georgia lawyer common’s workplace has declined to defend Kemp within the go well with. Instead, Kemp and different election officers will as a substitute be defended by a personal agency, the AP wrote.

Assistant state lawyer common Cristina Correia allegedly gave attorneys concerned conflicting info on whether or not the server was wiped earlier than or after the lawsuit was filed on July three:

The server’s knowledge was destroyed July 7 by technicians on the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system, Correia knowledgeable attorneys within the case in an Oct. 18 e mail. Twelve days earlier, she had knowledgeable the identical group of attorneys that the info on the server was wiped on March 17, the identical day it was returned to the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University by the FBI after a probe into the safety incident. No one on the state lawyer common’s workplace has defined Correia’s supply for the apparently misguided info on timing.

On July 2, someday earlier than the lawsuit was filed, Kemp wrote an editorial in USA Today calling the allegations the server had safety holes “misinformation from the media or disgruntled partisans” and “fake news.” Per Slate, Kemp later blamed the destruction of data on the server on KSU workers.

“There is no scandal or vast conspiracy,” Kemp’s marketing campaign wrote in a press release to the AP. “This is a tasteless nothingburger cooked up by liberal activists who know their lawsuit is nothing short of stupid.”

Regardless of what’s happening, one factor that’s clear is that the alleged vulnerability of Georgia election techniques isn’t an anomaly. In common, the U.S. election system isn’t very safe.

Reports earlier this yr instructed the FBI is investigating quite a few situations through which Russian hackers might have probed the safety of voter registration, database and voting machine techniques in dozens of states within the leadup to the 2016 election. There’s no proof something was modified, however the fear is that anybody (not simply Russians) may reap the benefits of quite a few safety holes within the voting course of. States are additionally reportedly doing a poor job of investigating the incidents or hardening their voting techniques in opposition to future intrusion.

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