DeKalb uses software from firm accused of poll worker data theft

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

DeKalb elections officials said Wednesday they were aware of the arrest of Eugene Yu, the leader of a company whose software the county recently employed to help manage poll workers, and were awaiting more information before determining next steps.

Yu, the founder and CEO of Michigan-based Konnech Corporation, was detained earlier this week and accused of stealing personal identifying information of hundreds of poll workers in Los Angeles County, California. According to The Associated Press, prosecutors there did not specify what information may have been taken but said the company allegedly stored data on servers in the People’s Republic of China instead of in the United States as required.

An investigation into whether any of the data subsequently went into inappropriate hands was still pending.

California officials said the incident only involved data related to poll workers, not voting machines or vote counts — an important distinction with Konnech and Yu, who was born in China, having long been targeted by election deniers and conspiracy theorists over claims of secret ties to the Chinese Community Party.

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The DeKalb County elections office, meanwhile, finalized its own contract with Konnech on Sept. 8, choosing its PollChief software to help streamline management of the thousands of poll workers necessary for Georgia’s fourth largest county to pull off elections, like next month’s high-profile mid-terms.

The software helps with assignments and scheduling and supervisors can use it to track payroll, inventory and training, according to county documents.

DeKalb’s procurement of such a system was pursued on an emergency basis because officials were still waiting on county approval of their mid-year budget requests and elections were looming. The elections board voted to authorize director Keisha Smith to choose between Konnech and one other vendor, according to minutes of an Aug. 20 meeting.

The initial $76,000 contract includes set up and the first year of licensing. It’s eligible for one-year extensions, which carry the price tag of $40,100.

It also includes language that says DeKalb’s data “shall only be stored on servers that are physically located in the 48 contiguous states of the United States.”

“DeKalb County poll workers can be assured that the department will take every precaution to safeguard their personal data,” the elections office said in a statement provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are closely monitoring this matter as it develops, and we will determine our next steps as we learn more.”

Early voting for November’s elections begins Oct. 17.

Konnech has previously maintained that all of its data was stored stateside, according to media reports. In a recent statement, the company called Yu’s arrest on California-based charges a “wrongful detention.”

“Any LA County poll worker data that Konnech may have possessed was provided to it by LA County, and therefore could not have been ‘stolen’ as suggested,” the statement said.

The Associated Press reported that Konnech first contracted to work with Los Angeles County in 2020. Documents submitted to DeKalb County listed Detroit, Michigan; Fairfax County, Virginia; and St. Louis County, Missouri, as the company’s other current clients.