As frenzied backers struggle to tamp down brushfires erupting around Konnech’s sharing of confidential election-worker information on foreign servers, new information is coming to light, and it's fueling a firestorm likely to devastate the Michigan-based company. Come to find out, the election software management firm is suspected of compromising the security of the nation’s Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, UOCAVA. Federal, state, and university officials who helped Konnech worm its tentacles into U.S. overseas and domestic elections processes are scrambling to deflect the heat.
Eugene Yu, Konnech CEO, was arrested and taken into custody on October 4 for stealing US election worker data and storing it on Chinese servers. The arrest came as part of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’sinvestigation into Konnech’s possible theft of personal identifying information of election workers.
Documents show Konnech, Inc., founded in 1999 in East Lansing, Mich., received $306,000 grant funding from the Michigan Economic Development Council with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s blessing.
A quick web search shows the Department of Defense awarded Konnech $247,349 in 2010-2011. The grant’s stated purpose was to help the election software management company research, develop, and provide “on-line voting services using automated wizards” for absentee voting processes in Nevada, Montana and New Jersey. Barack Obama was U.S. President, January 2009 through January 2017.
Source: USA spending.gov
In 1986, the federal government enacted the Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act in order to enable special registration and absentee voting provisions for military and overseas civilians. The Department of Defense administers the UOCAVA program.
According to the Konnech tool app, “the City of Detroit under a grant from the Department of Defense…allows any Uniformed and Overseas Citizen to register annually with the Federal Post Card Application
(FPCA) form and request access to an absentee ballot, and to submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) at the same time easily.”
After CEO Yu’s arrest, the city of Detroit, Michigan, and Fairfax County, Virginia, terminated their contracts with Konnech and discontinued use of Pollchief, the software used to manage confidential poll worker information. Oddly, DeKalb County, Georgia, with the ink barely dry on its one-month-old contract, voted 3-2 to continue with Konnech on condition the company host the county’s poll worker data in Georgia.
Early warning signs. Suspicious discrepancies.
In 2020 the FBI, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Election Assistance Commission, and National Institute of Standards and Technology described the UOCAVA process as “high risk” and “suspectible to fraud.”
Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips first broke the story that Konnech servers were located in Communist China in January 2021. Kanekoa The Great, an investigative journalist and blogger, reported about the findings of The Pit on Sept. 8, 2022.
On Oct. 3, the day before Yu’s arrest, the New York Times published an article, labeling the researchers as conspiracy theorists, baselessly picking on a small company. How a Tiny Elections Company Became a Conspiracy Theory Target. The Times later printed a correction.
Then something peculiar happened.
Despite citizens flocking home to America's shores in 2020 due to fears of COVID-19, non-military UOCAVA voters skyrocketed as high as 573,000 from 2016 numbers of around 228,000. Meanwhile, military overseas voters dropped to 37% of total UOCAVA voters.
A significant discrepancy in the number of non-military UOCAVA voters exists between government agency reports to Congress. In 2020, the DOD reported 224,139 non-military UOCAVA voters; the Election Assistance Commission reported 573,000.
The 349,000 difference compounds when a person considers that UOCAVA voters may select ANY address to serve as their U.S. residence of record, even if they never lived at that address. Per the Federal Voting Assistance Program, FVAP, an overseas non-military voter may claim an address of domicile “even if you have not physically been present at that address.”
Plus, questions exist as to whether citizenship is even verified. Social security number? Voter ID? Not required. “In Section 6 of the form, under ‘Additional Information,’ write that you do not have a Social Security Number or a state-issued ID.”
Meanwhile, Michigan's GOP-controlled legislature rushed two bills through its senate and house, authorizing military voters to cast ballots electronically. Is anyone so naïve as to believe that courts won’t be slammed with lawsuits demanding non-military voters also qualify under federal UOCAVA laws?
In a signal of what is to come, Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is reportedly waiting pen in hand, eager to sign the bills into law, despite her vetoing hundreds of other bipartisan bills.
“I'm beginning to see a pattern here,” a chairperson of one of Pure Integrity Michigan Elections' committees said and asked to remain anonymous. Given the massive shift in public opinion going into the November elections, the committee chair wondered if “the left is trying to remove their opposition from the voting process completely through fear and intimidation. Usual tactics deployed in a different way. I would hate to think that people would be discouraged about participating though, when so many are willingly handing their personal data to foreign adversaries through Tik Tok.”
For election integrity in Michigan,
Patrice Johnson, Chair
Michigan Fair Elections
Pure Integrity Michigan Elections
What to do
From Ned Jones, Deputy Director, Election Integrity Network:
Here are the immediate action steps for you to take to find out if your local Election Office and/or other Election Offices in your state are using any of the Konnech, Inc. election service products.
1. Listen to Cleta Mitchell's podcast with Christine Brim from the Fairfax County Election Integrity Task Force in Virginia. Their conversation provides a framework to discover if Konnech is working with your local Election Office. Christine and her team played a major role in getting Fairfax County to cancel their contract with Konnech.
2. Review the other links and attachments in this email to become more familiar with the current situation with Konnech.
3. Review the copies of the Fairfax County Purchase Orders for the Konnech Services that they were using, and the list of products that your local Election Office may be using.
4. Contact your local Election Office, preferably in person, with the goal of finding out if they are using any of Konnech's election service products. Ask about Konnech, Inc, and the specific products they offer. If you sense that the official is not being forthcoming, file a FOIA request for the information.
5. If they are using any of the Konnech services, the goal is to get the contracts with Konnech cancelled. The memo from Fairfax County provides an excellent framework to accomplish that goal. We can help.
6. File a report with your findings using the Citizen's Research Project form in this link.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Be Polite, Be Right, Be Persistent!
MFE Coalition Task Force Meeting
Michigan Fair Elections
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, Thurs., Oct. 6, 2022, via Zoom. Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85373094637? pwd=aHM1cHVwKzBWVmhVQ3Z4Y3VxMjBudz09
Patrice Johnson, Chair, MFE and Pure Integrity Michigan Elections --Introductions
Timothy Griffin --News update
Margie Gillean --Recruitment --Credentialing
Jo DeMarco --MFE & PIME county credentialing for poll challengers
Dee Davey --News from Washtenaw County
Bonnie Kellogg --Tabulator accuracy testing going on NOW
Anne Hill --Konnech/OUCAVA connections. Satellite College campus 1-stop voting offices
Matthew Seifried --Poll challengers needed
Committee chair --SOS misinformation tactics
Renita Bonadies --Midland FOIA issues and remedies
Dee Davies --Washtenaw walks for Election Integrity
Ron Armstrong --Propositions
Next Task Force Coalition Meeting: Thurs., Oct. 20, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM meeting. Recurring weekly link. Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZEucOqopz8sGdNYKcvyh 8hDELFWbG9eNdwz/ics? icsToken=98tyKuGtrTwpGt2RthqARpwMA4_Cb_TxmCldjadzpTTmFTl bOgvSE85kBbBYSd3-
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