Exclusive: Konnech, Now Accused of Storing U.S. Poll Worker Data in China, Once Contracted with Pentagon to Help Soldiers Cast Ballots

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Konnech, the Michigan-based election software management company whose CEO was recently arrested for allegedly storing the personal data of poll workers on servers located in China, contracted with the Department of Defense to manage election logistics for service members Breitbart News has confirmed.

Eugene Yu was arrested by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on October 4th in connection with the purported theft of personally identifiable information of county poll workers whose data was allegedly discovered on servers in the People’s Republic of China. Konnech’s software, the PollChief Election Worker Management System, was used by LA County and many other counties in the United States to manage, pay and communicate with election poll workers. LA County asserts Konnech “was supposed to securely maintain the data and that only United States citizens and permanent residents have access to it,” but said that information has been discovered on Chinese servers.

In response to a Breitbart News request, DoD provided documents revealing Konnech was contracted to provide online voting services for the states of Montana, New Jersey, and Nevada between July 8, 2010 and January 31, 2011. The now-defunct DoD Business Transformation Agency (BTA) awarded the contracts. Open source documents reveal the existence of a BTA email to Konnech on April 21, 2010 advising that “BTA would like to offer Konnech a [Blanket Purchase Agreement] for the FVAP Wizard Support Services Requirement.” The correspondence is titled “FVAP BTA Offer” and is further evidence of a relationship between Konnech and the Pentagon.

Old Facebook posts from an account appearing to belong to Konnech, Inc. also provide further corroboration:

Konnech concluded the 2010 General Election having assisted uniformed and overseas voters in three States to cast their ballots. The very first voter to use our system emailed ‘this is the first time I’ve been able to vote since being posted to Iraq.’ – November 3, 2010

The Federal Voter Assistance Program, an agency of the DoD, awarded (2) grants to the City of Detroit for systems to be developed by Konnech. The first is to establish an online system that will allow military and overseas voters to confirm their registration, apply for an absentee ballot, as well as receive and track their ballot. Detroit’s second grant is to test the security and usability of mobile applications. In a mock election environment, overseas testers will use the mobile applications to receive, vote, and cast their ballots. Analysis of risks associated with use of a mobile application for the electronic transmission of a voted ballot will be conducted during this mock election. – March 2012

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) that provides voting assistance to members of the military, their families, and citizens overseas. Service members receive guidance on how to vote absentee along with other information regarding frequently asked questions. The FVAP website advises interested individuals on how to become Voting Assistance Officers to ensure that military and overseas voters have the support necessary to cast their ballots. “The Director of FVAP administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) on behalf of the Secretary of Defense.”

According to a Felony Complaint issued by the LA County District Attorney’s Office on October 13th, Yu was charged with conspiracy to embezzle public funds and grand theft by embezzlement of public funds valued at $2.6M. The complaint notes that Konnech utilized 3rd party contractors in China to perform services under its agreement with LA County. In particular, a Konnech employee responsible for managing the LA County contract “confirmed via the messaging app DingTalk that any employee working for Chinese contractors on PollChief software had super administration privileges for all PollChief clients.” The employee described this as a “huge security issue.”

Konnech was founded approximately 20 years ago and is a Microsoft gold partner, which it proudly displays on its website. It also advertises that “election logistic software is all we do”, it has 32 clients in North America and that PollChief software is used by “thousands of elections offices”.  The accusation that Konnech stored personal data of LA county election workers on a server located in China has put Konnech and its embattled CEO Eugene Yu under increased scrutiny, especially given the Chinese Communist Party’s penchant for surreptitiously harvesting data.

BuzzFeed reported in July that the American user data of TikTok, whose parent company is Beijing backed ByteDance Ltd., is routinely accessed in China.

There is a history of illicit data harvesting by Beijing from the hack of the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management in 2014 to the unauthorized access of TikTok’s American user data given to Chinese employees as reported by BuzzFeed.

Breitbart News also reached out to Konnech for comment and with a list of questions, including whether it continues to serve as an FVAP vendor and stores data on servers located in China. Konnech has not responded.

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