Authorities in Los Angeles County in California have dropped charges against the CEO of a company whose election software is used by Johnson County.
Driving the news: Citing “potential bias” and the pace of the investigation, prosecutors this week dropped charges against Eugene Yu, CEO of Konnech, a company which makes software that manages election workers.
- Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman said Friday he could not comment on Konnech or the news that Yu’s charges had been dropped.
Bigger picture Yu, an American citizen since 1997, had been accused of improperly allowing information about poll workers to be stored on Chinese servers, an apparent violation of his contract with Los Angeles County.
- Los Angeles County’s investigation was begun after a tip from a member of True the Vote, an election-denying group that also produced the debunked film “2000 Mules,” which made unsubstantiated claims that widespread tampering with ballot dropboxes swayed the 2020 presidential election.
ICYMI: News of Yu’s arrest in October introduced some last-minute turmoil in Johnson County, which has used the Konnech software known as PollChief since 2016.
- County officials estimated as many as 1,319 poll workers may have had their data compromised, and urged them to be on the lookout for any evidence of tampering.
State of play: PollChief is a set of programs designed to help election administrators organize the workers who staff elections each year.
- Johnson County officials used parts of that software, but not the part with payroll information.
- County election officials have said the program does not interface with vote tabulation or voter information.
Where we’re at: In response to Yu’s arrest, county election officials moved workers’ data under the system’s management to isolated county servers under the county’s sole control.
- The software itself, however, remained in use for the Nov. 8 general election.
- There were no known reports of malicious activity.
Zooming out on elections and Konnech
With all this happening just weeks before the midterm election, the news about Konnech became a talking point among some local candidates.
- Election integrity was already much in the news due to Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden’s continuing comments to conservative groups casting doubts on the way recent elections have been run.
- Hayden, who was not up for re-election this year, questioned the security of ballot dropboxes in particular, and also expressed doubts about the increase in Democratic votes in what has long been a Republican leaning county.
- Hayden said he had advised county officials not to use the PollChief software until the Los Angeles investigation ended.
What they said: Meanwhile, county commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, who ran unsuccessfully for the commission chair seat, referenced the Konnech case in a Shawnee Mission Post questionnaire, saying she was “very concerned” about the county’s contract with Konnech.
- Maria Holiday, who unsuccessfully challenged Commissioner Janee Hanzlick, also mentioned Hayden’s investigation and Konnech Los Angeles case in her response to the Post’s questionnaire, saying the discrepancies were worth investigating.