Score One for True the Vote
Konnech is an election software company which provides Poll Chief software for election worker management. It is used in a number of counties, including DeKalb in Georgia, Washoe County, Nevada; Fairfax County, Virginia; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles County, California; Prince William County, Virginia; Johnson County, Kansas; and Allen County, Indiana.
True the Vote, which seeks to ensure election integrity, investigated the company and was sued by it, alleging unauthorized access and “distribution of material gotten through such access.” It claimed in its complaint that “All of Konnech’s U.S. customer data is secured and stored exclusively on protected computers located within the United States.” Upon its allegations it received an immediate temporary restraining order.
Based on this litigation the New York Times reported:
From the N.Y. Times Monday:
At an invitation-only conference in August at a secret location southeast of Phoenix, a group of election deniers unspooled a new conspiracy theory about the 2020 presidential outcome.
Using threadbare evidence, or none at all, the group suggested that a small American election software company, Konnech, had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had given the Chinese government backdoor access to personal data about two million poll workers in the United States, according to online accounts from several people at the conference.
In the ensuing weeks, the conspiracy theory grew as it shot around the internet. To believers, the claims showed how China had gained near complete control of America's elections. Some shared LinkedIn pages for Konnech employees who have Chinese backgrounds and sent threatening emails to the company and its chief executive, who was born in China….
Unlike other election technology companies targeted by election deniers, Konnech, a company based in Michigan with 21 employees in the United States and six in Australia, has nothing to do with collecting, counting or reporting ballots in American elections. Instead, it helps clients like Los Angeles County and Allen County, Ind., with basic election logistics, such as scheduling poll workers.
Konnech said none of the accusations were true. It said that “all the data for its American customers were stored on servers in the United States and that it had no ties to the Chinese government.”
Unfortunately, the company’s assertion was called into question the next day when the Los Angeles district attorney charged Eugene Yu, the CEO of Konnech, with stealing the personal identifying information of poll workers and storing them on servers in the People’s Republic of China.
But the story doesn’t end there. If you wonder why the information on poll workers might be of interest to the Chinese government, the answer seems to have been answered in the warrant for Yu’s arrest.
On or about August18,2022, Luis Nabergoi, project manager for Konnech's contract with the County of Los Angeles, confirmed via the messaging app DingTalk that any employee for Chinese contractors working on Poll Chief software had “super administration” privileges for all Poll Chief clients. Mr. Nabergoi described the situation as a“huge security issue.”
My understanding is that a “super administrator” has complete access to all objects, folders, role templates, and groups in the system.
RedState, which considers the Chinese contractors intelligence agents, explains why this is so serious:
It’s more than just a “huge security issue.” Even if nothing nefarious has been done with that access, a possibility which requires the suspension of disbelief, this revelation validates every concern that has been expressed in the security of our elections since, well, long before 2020. But we know it was happening through August, 2022, at a minimum. And while the City of Minneapolis initially defended its contract with Konnech, saying there was no information that the personal identifying information of their poll workers was compromised, officials might want to revisit that statement in light of the above.
In addition, one function PollChief software provides is management of “election workers and voting
locations (including Vote Centers, drop boxes and check-in centers),” meaning that election officials can use the software to assign employees to retrieve ballots from drop boxes and deliver them to the elections office, and uses GPS and location data from the app on the employee’s phone to determine which employee is located closest to the drop box and continues to track their location for chain-of-custody purposes. However, as some have pointed out, it’s certainly possible that this app could be repurposed for ballot harvesting and delivery purposes.
After the arrest, the New York Times reported that, contrary to the sworn allegations in its earlier complaint against True the Vote, the firm knew the data had been sent to China. The paper also admitted that the Los Angeles district attorney’s investigation had been initiated upon a tip from Greg Phillips after a conference hosted by Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote.
Indeed, the entire NYT original frame of True the Vote as a pack of “conspiracy theorists” seems to have been a fact-free narrative, doesn’t it? There’s a great deal more to the Yu story yet to make the press. KanekoaTheGreat has been studying this for years:
While doing that research, another independent journalist discovered an archived version of Eugene Yu’s Chinese company’s website, "yu-lian.cn”, where Yu praised the vision of the former Chinese President, who he called “Comrade Jiang Zemin.”
On that same website, Yu boasted about his success with “Election Management Solutions Detroit” and “U.S. Overseas Voters,” as he wrote in Chinese:
“In line with the principle of "political tasks first and economic benefits of enterprises second," our company has perfected and formed the whole set of election management theory and software tools in line with China's national conditions.”
“We hope to ride on the spring breeze of political reform and provide you with election consulting services and election campaign management in line with China's national conditions based on our democratic election campaigns with Chinese characteristics.”
Yu registered a number of Chinese websites to his Konnech email address. Jinghua notes a predecessor company -- Konnech -- established in 2005, served “more than 20 government customers in North America, including Washington, D.C."
It seems the FBI knew about this and did nothing. Kanekoa reports that True the Vote brought this to the attention of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. office but that office “covered up this national security issue rather than investigating why Chinese nationals are programming U.S. election software.”
If True the Vote's claim is true, it’s another black mark against an agency which already had garnered more than enough of them to warrant its dissolution.