More than 6,000 past and present election poll workers in suburban Kansas City’s Johnson County have been alerted that their personal information may have been stolen and shared on a server in China.
The startling admission from Johnson County officials comes after the arrest of Eugene Yu, the founder and CEO of Konnech – maker of PollChief, a poll worker management software used by Johnson County. Yu was arrested in Michigan for the possible theft of poll workers’ personal information across the country.
“The software assists with poll worker assignments, communications and payroll,” the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office said in a statement this week announcing Yu’s arrest after an investigation in L.A.
Konnech records and retains poll workers’ personal information. And although both the L.A. district attorney and Johnson County say the company is contractually obligated to maintain the data on a server in the U.S., the L.A. district attorney says that did not happen.
“District Attorney investigators found that in contradiction to the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China,” the DA’s statement said.
A statement this week from the Johnson County manager’s office was much more circumspect, saying only that, “It’s unknown at this time if Johnson County poll worker data was stored in a manner that violated the contract.”
Johnson County also says its vulnerability is limited by its narrow use of the PollChief system.
“The Johnson County Election Office uses PollChief to communicate with and to assign poll workers,” the county’s statement says. “The Johnson County contract does not use the full functionality of the software and does not include payroll.”
In a response to The Heartlander’s questions, the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office said in a statement that Johnson County is the one county in the state using Konnech’s poll worker software, and only workers’ names, addresses, party affiliations, contact information and dates of birth are recorded, not Social Security or driver’s license information. The statement adds the Secretary of State’s Office is “not aware of any poll worker information being stored outside of the United States,” but that “our office is continuing to review this situation along with Johnson County officials.”
Still, the county’s statement says, “We encourage anyone who suspects they’ve been the victim of identity theft to contact law enforcement. We continue to monitor the situation and will act immediately if we learn Johnson County poll worker information has been compromised.”
Yu’s arrest Tuesday notably came just one day after the New York Times published a laudatory profile of Yu and Konnech. The article dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” growing accusations that the company provided the Chinese Communist Party access to American poll workers’ information. The article characterized the evidence as “threadbare” and nonexistent.