Calling it “probably the largest data breach in United States history,” Los Angeles County prosecutor Eric Neff said Chinese contractors working for a Michigan-based software company had direct control over U.S. election data through an app for poll workers called PollChief.
The complaint issued by the L.A. District Attorney’s Office cited as evidence a message from a Konnech project manager through a Chinese-owned messaging app that said “any employee for Chinese contractors working on PollChief software had ‘superadministration’ privileges for all PollChief clients.”
Sam Faddis, former CIA officer, put that statement in perspective in a Substack post.
“An individual with super administration access to a system can do effectively anything inside that system,” he wrote. “He or she can delete data, steal data, alter data, change programming, etc.”
The security breach through the Konnech software was discovered by the election integrity group True the Vote. At an invitation-only event in the Phoenix area in August, True the Vote leaders Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips disclosed that their team had notified the FBI, and the agents with whom they communicated were alarmed by the potential national security implications.
Later, however, after working together on a “counter-intelligence operation,” Engelbrecht and Phillips said the FBI turned against them. It was then that the True the Vote investigators decided to make their findings public and seek the help of independent researchers.
Yu, who established the Chinese company in 2005, wrote on his website – according to an archived 2013 version – about his success with “Election Management Solutions Detroit” and “U.S. Overseas Voters.”
On the website, he praised the vision of the the Chinese Communist Party leader at the time, calling him “Comrade Jiang Zemin.”
As recently as 2018, Kanekoa News reported, Konnech’s Chinese subsidiary bid on Chinese government contracts to provide “electronic voting systems” to China’s National People’s Congress, the communist nation’s legislative body.
Konnech is also closely tied to another Chinese election software firm, Jinhua Hongzheng Technology, as evidenced by patent transfers, employee profiles and domain registrations.
Hongzheng Technology operates in more than 20 provinces across China in partnership with Chinese tech giants Lenovo, Huawei, China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile as the premier voting technology provider for the National People’s Congress.
The Federal Communications Commission, Kanekoa noted, has designated China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile and Huawei as “national security threats.”
True the Vote said the lawsuit was an effort to try to silence the organization. Konnech obtained an ex-parte temporary restraining order in secret, True the Vote said, so the election integrity group would have no opportunity to contest it.