Employees at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs Georgia's elections system, destroyed data from a computer server just a few days after a lawsuit was filed against state election officials, The Associated Press reports.
The lawsuit was filed July 3 by election reform advocates, who want Georgia to stop using its old and flawed election technology. The state uses AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, which are easy to hack and do not keep hard copies of who people voted for. The plaintiffs, who want this system retired, also argued that the results of November's election and a special congressional runoff on June 20 cannot be trusted because of the problematic machines.
An email obtained by AP shows that on July 7, center technicians wiped clean a server that held important statewide election-related data. It's not clear who ordered that the data, which could have revealed if the results of recent elections were compromised, be erased. A spokesperson for Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, said his office was not involved.
In August 2016, a security researcher named Logan Lamb found a major security hole in the server — information on Georgia's 6.7 million voters was online, including their Social Security numbers, party affiliation, and birthdays. Lamb said based on what he saw, the polling data could have been altered, with voters dropped and added, AP reports, and he notified election authorities. Six months later, it wasn't fixed, and the FBI became involved in March. Kennesaw State said in a statement Thursday that the server was set to be repurposed after the FBI returned it, and that's why it was wiped clean. Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist following the case, told AP that deleting the data "forestalls any forensic investigation at all. People who have nothing to hide don't behave this way."