“Narrative asserted in the media that the data was nefariously deleted… is without merit.”
Georgia state officials said Monday that the recent reports of server deletion “were not undertaken to delete evidence.” The conclusion came as part of a two-page “investigation report” authored by Ryan Germany of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
As Ars reported last week, a university server and its backups, believed to be key to a pending federal lawsuit filed against Georgia election officials, were deleted, according to e-mails recently released under a public records request.
Also this week, the state’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) told plaintiffs that it would no longer be representing state election officials. The lawsuit will now be taken over by Barnes Law Group, headed by former Georgia Governor Ray Barnes.
OAG Spokeswoman Katelyn McCreary gave no explanation for the change in attorneys to the Associated Press. She did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Georgia previously came under heavy scrutiny after a researcher discovered significant problems with his home state’s voting system. A lawsuit soon followed in state court, asking the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The case, Curling v. Kemp, was filed in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3 but has since been moved to federal court.
Georgia’s Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University (KSU) ran the June 20 election using allegedly outdated and unsecure software.
After reviewing this situation, it is clear that:
(1) KSU IT acted in accordance with standard IT procedures without any oversight, permission, or direction from the Secretary of State’s office.
(2) The concern that the data was lost is unfounded. Current indication is that the FBI retained an image of the data on those servers as part of their investigation and that it will be available for use in the ongoing litigation. FBI only had one server, not multiple servers.
(3) Given those conclusions, the narrative asserted in the media that the data was nefariously deleted and is no longer available is completely false and without merit.
Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, one of the plaintiffs in the case, provided Ars with an annotated copy of the Germany report, in which she disputed many of its assertions.
It includes remarks like: “Cannot possibly be true that University System procedure is to delete servers that have been breached.”
In a brief phone interview with Ars, she said: “There’s probably way more to the story than it appears to those of us who are on the outside.”