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Montana Legislators Ask AG for Konnech Voting Software Halt Pending Investigation

Updated: Oct 27

https://www.westernmt.news/user/roy


Watch: EMERGENCY BROADCAST: MONTANA INVESTIGATORS UNMASK VOTING SOFTWARE COMPANY https://rumble.com/v1oa2mn-emergency-broadcast-montana-investigators-unmask-voting-software-company-ep.html


Roy McKenzie Whitefish3 days ago · Fri, Oct 14, 2022 9:06 PM




Montana Legislators letter requesting AG investigate Montana Konnech ties. October 13, 2020.


Members of the Montana Legislature have signed a letter asking the Attorney General to conduct an investigation into Konnech, an elections software company that developed and operated the state’s online voting portal for military and overseas citizen voters, called the Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS). The company’s ties with Montana go as far back as 2010. The legislators also asked that the AG notify the Secretary of State and each County Attorney to halt use of the software pending completion of an investigation.


Montana voting software that allows military, overseas citizens, and disabled persons to request, mark, and submit their ballot online was developed by Konnech Corporation, an elections software company whose CEO, Eugene Yu, was arrested recently by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in connection with election worker data stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China. One of our vital roles as legislators is protecting the security and integrity of our elections. This indictment and the continued use of software from Konnech has grave implications for the security of poll workers and elections in Montana[…] We are asking your office to immediately open up an investigation if it hasn’t already done so. Given the proximity to the ongoing 2022 general election, we also respectfully ask that you promptly notify the Montana Secretary of State and each County Attorney in Montana that the software should not be used until the investigation is completed.


Montana Legislators letter to AG (enclosed below). October 13, 2022


The letter to AG Austin Knudsen was signed by State Senator Theresa Manzella, Rep. Brad Tschida (HD-97), Rep. Bob Phalen (HD-36), Rep. Jerry Schillinger (HD-37), Rep. Paul Fielder (HD-13), Rep. Steven Galloway (HD-24), and Rep. Steven Gunderson (HD-1). The legislators transmitted the letter to the Attorney General on Thursday.


Konnech CEO Eugene Yu was extradited from Michigan and arraigned in Los Angeles Friday. According to charging documents, prosecutors charged Yu with two felonies including one count of felony conspiracy to commit a crime and one count of felony grand theft embezzlement of public funds. The documents note that Yu conspired with other persons in the conduct of the crime. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Yu to remain in home confinement in LA and post a bond of $500,000.


LA County felony arrest warrant (page 1). See below for pages 2 and 3.

October 13, 2022

In the legislator’s letter to the AG, they noted that Konnech has had agreements with the State of Montana going back to at least 2010.


As mentioned, to our knowledge and per the attached material, Konnech has had at least one contract and a direct connection with the State Montana as far back as 2010, according to a Blanket Purchase Agreement funded by the Department of Defense. The award paid $91,617 to Konnech, Inc. for “RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR AN ON-LINE WIZARD PROVIDING ABSENTEE VOTING CAPABILITY FOR THE STATE OF MONTANA.”

Montana Legislators letter to AG. October 13, 2022



Department of Defense Grant Award. Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History. October 11, 2022.


The origins of the Montana EAS are outlined in a 2012 technical proposal grant application submitted by then Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to the Federal Voting Assistance Program. In the proposal, McCulloch mentions the development of the beta version of the EAS known as the Montana Electronic Voting Support Wizard (EVSW) in collaboration with Konnech, Inc. The grant proposal lists Eugene Yu as the primary contractor on the project.

Montana Electronic Absentee System. 2012 Technical Proposal Montana Secretary of State. Federal Voting Assistance Program



MT SoS 2012 FVAP Grant Proposal. Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History.



MT EAS development timeline. Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History.



MT EAS development evolution. Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History.

October 11, 2022.

Legislators also noted that their research revealed that other election software companies that Montana uses are connected to Konnech and should also be investigated.

This includes anyone closely associated with Konnech, or anyone using Konnech developed technology and systems, which is referenced in our attached research materials.


Montana Legislators letter to AG. October 13, 2022


The research materials, provided to legislators by Western Montana News and Montana Broadcasting Radio Group, LLC, showed that the software used for the current version of the Montana EAS voting portal is administered by a company called Votem Corp, another election software company with Eugene Yu on the Board of Advisors.



Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History. October 11, 2022.


In early 2016, Konnech’s absentee remote mobile voting software ABVote including related mobile applications, customers and contracts, were acquired by Votem. Votem administers the software under the name “CastIron” for North American-based customers while Konnech handles customers internationally.


Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History. October 11, 2022.


In a February 2016 press release announcing the acquisition, Votem CEO Peter Martin welcomed a long-term partnership with Konnech and praised Eugene Yu’s deployment of Konnech’s ABVote software in Montana:


Pete Martin, CEO of Votem, stated, “We are so pleased to add the ABVote product line as a complement to our Mobile Voting Platform (MVP)™. Eugene Yu and his team have built outstanding products for the mobile and online voting space. Even more importantly, they have given care and attention in deploying them at jurisdictions such as the State of Montana and Washington, DC so Votem benefits from now having an end-to-end mobile voting product line as well as a larger satisfied customer base. Eugene and Konnech are well respected in this industry and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them well into the future.”


Votem Corp announces the acquisiton of the mobile voting business from Michigan-based Konnech Inc.


February 15, 2016.

In an October 7th email obtained by WMN, Montana Secretary of State Communications Director Richie Mebly stated that the Secretary of State’s office “does not have a contract with Konnech, Inc.”

Secretary of State’s Office email. October 7th, 2022.


WMN submitted a Montana Public Records Act request to the Secretary of State’s Office Thursday for any previous contracts with Konnech and any current or past contracts with Votem.


Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History. October 11, 2022.


The legislators also noted that an affiliate of Konnech in China has been using The Great Seal of the State of Montana in promotional marketing, perhaps in violation of the law.


Our own research also indicates that Konnech is using The Great Seal of the State of Montana as part of its commercial promotions and advertising. We are curious whether they were given permission to do so when former SOS McCulloch entered into a relationship with them or at anytime subsequent to those events. If not, we believe such use is improper and prohibited.


Montana Legislators letter to AG. October 13, 2022


The company in question, Jinhua Hongzheng Technology Co., Ltd, is Chinese company that “focuses on providing software products and overall solutions related to elections, voting and voting for domestic government organs at all levels, CPPCC [Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference]” according to an announcement for the company on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.


In the announcement, the company’s “predecessor” was named as “Konnech., Ltd.” and described as a company founded in 2005 that does “software offshoring services for more than a decade,” listing the State of Montana as a client.


Source: Jinhua Hongzheng Technology Co., Ltd. Weibo.


Translation of text under The Great Seal of the State of Montana. Montana Electronic Absentee System (EAS) Konnech History. October 11, 2022.


The company’s domain was registered in 2015 with the “Registrant Contact Email” listed as “admin@konnech.com”.


First reported, Oct 8 2022


Read the legislator’s letter to the AG here.

View the attached research materials here.


October 13, 2022

Attorney General Austin Knudsen OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL 215 N Sanders Third Floor PO Box 201401 Helena, MT 59620-1401


Dear Attorney General Knudsen:

Montana voting software that allows military, overseas citizens, and disabled persons to request, mark, and submit their ballot online was developed by Konnech Corporation, an elections software company whose CEO, Eugene Yu, was arrested recently by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in connection with election worker data stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China. One of our vital roles as legislators is protecting the security and integrity of our elections. This indictment and the continued use of software from Konnech has grave implications for the security of poll workers and elections in Montana. This includes anyone closely associated with Konnech, or anyone using Konnech developed technology and systems, which is referenced in our attached research materials. Your own investigation may also identify additional entities or areas of concern. We are asking your office to immediately open up an investigation if it hasn’t already done so. Given the proximity to the ongoing 2022 general election, we also respectfully ask that you promptly notify the Montana Secretary of State and each County Attorney in Montana that the software should not be used until the investigation is completed. Through news reports we learned that Konnech distributes and sells its proprietary PollChief software, which is an election worker management system that was utilized by Los Angeles County in the last California election and this year’s primary election. The software assists with poll worker assignments, communications and payroll. PollChief requires that workers submit personal identifying information, which is retained by Konnech, Inc. Many of these news reports indicate governments around the country are taking steps to cancel contracts and disassociate themselves from Konnech. But given Konnech long history of election related software development and its relationship with our state going back to at least 2010, we believe a full investigation by your office is warranted because problems may be more extensive than the mere surface indicates. This is demonstrated more acutely in the information we have attached.


Under its multi-million dollar, five-year contract with LA County, Konnech was supposed to securely maintain the data and that only United States citizens and permanent residents have access to it. LA District Attorney investigators found that in contradiction to the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.

In the LA County DA’s press release the agency noted that the PollChief software from Konnech was the main conduit for the private election worker data that was transferred to servers in China. This is disturbing in light of the fact that the PollChief website lists Montana as one of the customers of the company. Additional information we have obtained, shows the McCollough Administration actually entered into software development contracts with this company that were specifically developed for Montana and integrated into our electoral system. Whether this is in fact the case, and whether that software, or something like is, is still in operation, is a critical component of your inquiry if this indeed occurred. Although the Los Angles indictment against Konnech, Inc. CEO, Eugene Yu, has not been released; from what we have been able to ascertain, it pertains to an investigation “into the possible theft of personal identifying information” of election poll workers in Los Angeles County. Eugen Yu was arrested in Michigan, and charged with being a fugitive of justice. In addition to constitutional protections, Montana has similar statutes to California (MCA Identity Theft: 30-14-1704 “Computer Security Breach” and 45-6-332 “Theft of Identity”) and your office should look into the matter to see if Montana should also bring forward charges to maintain Montana’s prosecutorial ability to file suit against Eugene Yu and Konnech, Inc. In addition to your general authority, our reading of 30-14-1712(3), gives you specific authority to bring criminal action or seek court injunctions, when a violation is reported.

As mentioned, to our knowledge and per the attached material, Konnech has had at least one contract and a direct connection with the State Montana as far back as 2010, according to a Blanket Purchase Agreement funded by the Department of Defense. The award paid $91,617 to Konnech, Inc. for “RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR AN ON-LINE WIZARD PROVIDING ABSENTEE VOTING CAPABILITY FOR THE STATE OF MONTANA.”

Specific to the MT SOS McCulloch administration’s initial involving Montana with Konnech, to our knowledge this occurred in 2012, when then Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch submitted a technical proposal grant application to the Federal Voting Assistance Program in which she referenced the contract with Konnech for the development of the state’s Electronic Voting Support Wizard for UOCAVA voters. Upon hearing the news of the arrest of Konnech’s CEO, to their credit, Fairfax County, VA, who also uses Konnech Software, has ceased the use of election software by Konnech. They felt it was the right thing to do to avoid the risk of personal identifiable information being used for nefarious purposes. This doesn’t eliminate any risk, but it does limit any further risk. As previously mentioned, other government entities are conducting similar reviews or canceling contracts outright.

Montana should follow suit and stop the use of all Konnech software and the Attorney General’s Office should move to immediately investigate the use of Konnech in the state of Montana to ensure it mitigates any risks associated with the use of the software and data being stored by the company. Montana citizens also have a right to participate in government and government operations. Many chose to do this during election time to be part of the process. They should not do so in fear of having their personal private information disclosed; to foreign governments, especially those that are abjectly opposed to our interests and our way of life.

Our own research also indicates that Konnech is using The Great Seal of the State of Montana as part of its commercial promotions and advertising. We are curious whether they were given permission to do so when former SOS McCulloch entered into a relationship with them or at anytime subsequent to those events. If not, we believe such use is improper and prohibited.

As you are aware, Montana protects its elections. As legislators we are specifically tasked with doing that. Montana also has the strongest privacy protection laws in the country. Privacy protection is a vital component of our state constitution. Given our respective responsibilities and authorities to protect these interests, we sincerely hope we can work with you to promptly address these critical issues.

We thank you ahead of time for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing back from you with regard to actions you plan to take to safeguard the citizens of Montana and our upcoming general elections.

Sincerely,


Sen. Theresa Manzella – SD44 Rep. Brad Tschida – HD97 Rep. Bob Phalen – HD36 Rep. Jerry Schillinger – HD37 Rep. Paul Fielder – HD13 Rep. Steven Galloway – HD24 Rep. Steve Gunderson – HD1

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