Kennesaw State’s Center for Election Systems, which has been plagued with security issues for the past several months, will no longer oversee the state’s elections.
According to a report from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has signed a terminal contract with the Center for Election Systems, which has handled elections for the state since 2002. It will begin moving voting operations in-house over the course of the next year.
The final contract will allow the CES to continue overseeing elections through June 2018, although it allows either party to terminate the relationship before this date.
The election center’s security was first called into question in March when the FBI began investigating a data breach that allegedly left millions of voter records vulnerable. The breach was traced back to independent cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb, who in August 2016 began assessing state voting security amid reports of Russian meddling in United States elections. Lamb found an extensive database of voting files available for download on the public CES website.
Lamb told Politico the files contained not only registration records for 6.7 million Georgia voters, but instructions and passwords for accessing a central election server and software files for the devices that allow election workers to review and verify registration records.
Lamb said he contacted the CES in hopes the vulnerability would be addressed before the 2016 Presidential election, but it was not. In fact, the breach did not become public until March, when another cybersecurity researcher found the same data and contacted the university.
The university is expected to cooperate in the decision.
“We support the Secretary of State’s decision and look forward to helping facilitate a smooth transition,” KSU President Sam Olens said.
The security failure was cited in a Fulton County lawsuit challenging the results of June’s 6th District special election, won by Republican Karen Handel. The state has said there is no evidence that neither the presidential election nor the 6th District special election was hacked.