Georgia's election servers were wiped after a lawsuit was filed

Activists filed a lawsuit to learn more about the security of Georgia's election systems, but the data was deleted

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 27, 2017 8:21AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Michael Reaves)
(Getty/Michael Reaves)

A lawsuit over the security of Georgia's election systems took an unexpected twist when it was revealed that the data was deleted shortly after the case was filed.

The data on a computer server being held at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University was destroyed on July 7, according to the Associated Press. It is unclear who ordered the data to be permanently wiped, although Kennesaw State University told the Associated Press that the decision was made based on "standard operating procedure." This will make it more difficult for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit (a group of election reform advocates) to determine whether Georgia's current election technology needs to be retired.

The underlying concern that prompted the lawsuit was that a security expert reported a serious flaw in the system which made it vulnerable to being hacked — yet it wasn't reported to election authorities six months after he drew their attention to it.

Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the main defendant in the case, said in a statement, "The secretary of state's office had no involvement in this decision, and we would never direct someone to take such action."

He added, "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."

Meanwhile, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit told The Hill that the loss of the files is a major black eye for Georgia's government.

"It looks bad for them. But what we really wanted to have was a forensic investigation to see who accessed the server other than Logan Lamb. Now we don’t have access," Marilyn Marks said.

Lamb was the researcher who determined that internal files could be read in Georgia's election systems.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Center For Elections Systems Georgia Kennesaw State University