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DEKALB BOARD OF REGISTRATION AND ELECTIONS 10/10/22

BRE Members present:  

Dele Lowman Smith, Chair 

Nancy Jester 

Tony Lewis 

Susan Motter 

Karli Swift 

1. APPROVAL OF AGENDA  

2. PUBLIC COMMENTS  

Marci McCarthy: (Republican Chair, GA) – Wants extra time to comment about Konnech CEO.  (not granted.) She says that normally a tech CEO wouldn’t be arrested for data theft, and says he was considered a flight risk in Michigan. Michigan cities terminated contracts for “similar  reasons.” She wonders if maybe Konnech won’t be able to pay fees due to canceled contracts.  She says the vendor puts poll workers Personally-Identifying Information (PII) at risk. She worries that passwords, names, addresses, and phone numbers may be at risk. She requests that the  Konnech contract be terminated, and a third-party firm be hired to see who accessed the data. 

Lauri Edwards of Bradford Circle, Dunwoody says she’s a poll worker concerned about  Konnech. DeKalb’s contract with Konnech said they shouldn’t store data outside US. Edwards never gave direct-deposit info to the county due to her privacy concerns. Requests termination of Konnech contract. 

Bill Quinn of Suwanee notes that Jen Bae is the CEO’s pseudonym. He says China considers data stored in their country to be government property. He says that the county could have used another firm for this service.  

Judy Sokenopolis of 3005 Briarcliff thanks the BRE for helping all residents be able to vote.  

Jim Duffie of Cumberland Drive asks them to terminate the Konnech contract, and ensure that the data is wiped from their systems. He wants DeKalb to research and vet other vendors to automate operations in time for the 2023 elections.  

Jenine Milum of Springbrook Drive, Decatur is the Republican candidate for District 82. She works in fraud analytics. She says just getting a name, address, and email address constitutes means for 95% of identity theft. 

David Cross of Suwanee (A vocal member of Election Oversight Group) says that a Williamson  County, TN election had an error in which 70% of ballots were not counted properly and that no root cause was initially found. He says it was later determined to be a QR code signature mismatch. He says this problem has been found throughout the state of Georgia, and says that 

in the 2022 DeKalb runoff election, Michelle Long Spears had 1200 ballots found due to this programming error. 

Stephen Bennie of Clarkston is a former poll worker. He asks that the BRE terminate the  Konnech contract.  

Jan Appling of Harebee Drive is a poll worker and asks that they terminate the Konnech contract. She wants a full audit of all transferred data “to make sure it has all been retrieved.” 

3. ITEMS FOR DECISION BY THE BOARD: 

3A. Konnech (Poll Chief):  

Executive Director K Smith explains the BRE developed concerns about Konnech beginning  October 1. Their contract was signed on September 8, 2022. That contract stated Konnech would not share PII. Konnech was supposed to help with asset inventory, training, and poll worker data. 

No voting data, ballots, or similar data was accessed or stored by Konnech. Karli Swift asks where data is normally stored. 

John Matelski (chief information officer and director of Innovation and Technology for DeKalb  County) responds that the data will be hosted on DeKalb County servers within the contiguous  48 states. Previously, Konnech used “Azure Tenant” hosted by Microsoft. In the future, it will be on “Azure Tenant” hosted by DeKalb. 

Dir Keisha Smith: points out that this info (name, address, and phone numbers) has been publicly available previously. 

Dele Lowman Smith says that still lots is not known. She notes that people making public comment share this PII (name, address, and phone number) when they speak at meetings. She says it will be more expensive to host data on county servers.  

Jester: (2:00 pm) asks if BRE should consider giving poll workers a year of identity protection. DL Smith says no, because nothing very personal got shared so therefore it’s not warranted. Jester asks if is it unusual to subcontract this kind of thing. 

Matelski says DeKalb has contracts with many vendors, and contracts with an expectation of professionalism and ethical practices. He says this is a routine sort of thing from a security standpoint. Microsoft and Oracle are examples of vendors who store the county’s PII, but if  DeKalb hosts, it becomes easier to monitor ingress and egress logs of data.  Jester asks how data is kept safe. 

Matelski says problems happen and says other vendors have experienced compromises, such as Tyler. 

Dele L Smith notes that these events have no relationship to voter data or the Dominion Voting system. She says it wouldn’t affect election outcomes.  

Jester moves to terminate Konnech contract in its entirety. 

Jester – aye 

motter – nay 

Lewis – aye

Swift – nay 

Chair – nay 

Motion fails. 

Motter: Moves to amend contract per county attorneys so that county data resides on DeKalb  County Servers, not Konnech servers. 

Jester – nay 

Lewis – nay 

Motter – yes 

Swift – yes 

Chair – yes 

Motion carries 3/2. 

3 B. Soch (Integra) Considering this vendor is moot due to vote on Konnech 4. EXECUTIVE SESSION (2:16) to discuss litigation 

5. BOARD COMMENTS 

DL Smith: Konnech has performed a back-office function, not related to voter data. As recently as 2020 there were newspaper articles about how DeKalb poll workers couldn’t get paid. Susan  Motter helped BRE find outside resources. Thanks to vendors and tech advisors for advising on what action to take.  

Jester: Disappointed, and she doesn’t think the public was confused about the issues. She feels that, by continuing the Konnech contract, DeKalb is allowing risks to persist. She wishes they had chosen another vendor. Asks Director Keisha Smith to keep an eye on this vendor and this relationship. Asks the office to alert workers about their data situation. 

Tony Lewis: Disappointed, and says that in all his previous time on the board “We had balance”  and now “we’ve lost it altogether.” He says, “Today we decided to continue a relationship with  a CEO who has been arrested for fraud.” He asks, “Why not err on side of caution?” Then he thanks the staff “as always.” Lewis worries that DeKalb will have problems attracting poll  workers, and is worried that the public will feel they can’t bring the BRE their concerns (FWIW,  since 2019 Lewis has repeatedly heard concerns about the security, expense, practicality, and  reliability of the Dominion Voting system from me and other county residents and he has never  asked any follow-up questions or in any other way expressed interest in any such concerns) 

Motter: Notes her Asian ancestry, and points out a subtext about Asian-Americans in discussions about Konnech. Recalls the Chinese Exclusion Act; Japanese internment; DJT’s  “China Flu” comments; and current hate crimes against Asians. She notes that she was recently  told, in the context of her service on the BRE, to “go back to where you come from.” She pointed out the irony that her European ancestors trace from the Mayflower, and that today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Motter says that if the Konnech contract were evaluated in a criminal or civil proceeding and determined problematic by a court, then she’d reconsider. But she considers it just allegations for now, so that’s why she voted as she did.  

ADJOURN 2:52 

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