Evidence in Jon Ossoff Election Is Destroyed

Back on June 14th, I made a brief post that said only, “Suffice to say, if Jon Ossoff loses the election in Georgia, we’ll have plenty of reason to doubt the result.” That was my coercive way of trying to force you to follow the link to a Politico Magazine article called: “Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?”

The short summary of that article is that Georgia’s election system was sitting insecure on the internet for months and was easily accessible by hackers. The problem was discovered ahead of time and the state was taken to court in an effort to prevent them from using the unprotected system for the special election between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff.  But the election was held anyway and now we’ll never know if the results were legitimate.

One reason I spent the small amount of time it took to write that brief post before the election is that I wanted to be able to point to it later on in case someone accused me of advancing some conspiracy theory I couldn’t prove when I questioned the validity of an Ossoff loss.

Because the whole point is that no one can prove it. And that’s especially true now that the evidence has been destroyed. Although, to be fair, hackers wouldn’t have much difficulty erasing their own tracks without this kind of ham-handed assistance:

A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned.

The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe…

…Wiping the server “forestalls any forensic investigation at all,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist following the case. “People who have nothing to hide don’t behave this way.”

…The server data could have revealed whether Georgia’s most recent elections were compromised by hackers. The plaintiffs contend results of both last November’s election and a special June 20 congressional runoff— won by Kemp’s predecessor, Karen Handel — cannot be trusted…

…Kemp and his GOP allies insist Georgia’s elections system is secure. But Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff, believes server data was erased precisely because the system isn’t secure.

“I don’t think you could find a voting systems expert who would think the deletion of the server data was anything less than insidious and highly suspicious,” she said.

Actually, data was removed from at least two backup servers as well. The FBI might have some data from back in March, but that wouldn’t be of much help to an investigation about a possible hack in June.

The FBI is known to have made an exact data image of the server in March when it investigated the security hole. The Oct. 18 email disclosing the server wipe said the state attorney general’s office was “reaching out to the FBI to determine whether they still have the image” and also disclosed that two backup servers were wiped clean Aug. 9, just as the lawsuit moved to federal court.

I want to be extra clear and reiterate that the concern was that a well-designed hack would not be detectable even if all this information had been preserved and turned over for forensic analysis. The fact that all the evidence was deliberately destroyed right before it was going to be requested by a federal court is more of an acknowledgment of guilt than a necessary step in this kind of conspiracy.

And here is the excuse:

After declining comment for more than 24 hours, Kennesaw State’s media office issued a statement late Thursday attributing the server wiping to “standard operating procedure.” It did not respond to the AP’s question on who ordered the action.

The defendant in the case is Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, who is candidate for governor in 2018. He says he didn’t order the wiping of the servers and “had neither involvement nor advanced warning of the decision.”

I have little reason to believe him. I look forward to hearing what the judge thinks.

People spent millions of dollars and tons of energy on the special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, and we can have no confidence in the results. It wasn’t just predictable. I did predict it.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.