Johnson County says third-party had access to poll worker management system

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A company whose election software was used in Johnson County for managing poll workers provided a third-party vendor access to the county’s system for technical support without approval, officials announced late Friday.

The county said it has now transferred the PollChief election worker management system from Konnech Inc. to servers under Johnson County’s exclusive control.

“We added this extra layer of security at the local level to prevent unauthorized access to the software and our data. We found no evidence of malicious activity,” county officials said in a statement.

About 825 out of 9,800 Johnson County election workers’ records in PollChief contained a driver’s license number, which is considered personal identifying information under Kansas statute, the county said.

“The county will contact those individuals whose driver’s license number was exposed to an unauthorized third-party,” the county said.

Election officials initially indicated that driver’s license information was not exposed but said upon further review they found that information for some poll workers was in the system.

The county had been using the software from Konnech Corp, whose Chief Executive Officer Eugene Yu was recently arrested on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information in Los Angeles County.

Konnech nationally distributes and sells PollChief software, which assists with poll worker assignments, communications and payroll.

The software is not used for tabulating election results.

Los Angeles County authorities said that under its $2.9 million, five-year contract with  Konnech, the company was supposed to securely maintain the data and that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents had access to it.

Local prosecutors in California found that in violation of the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.

Prosecutors have said vote tabulation was not affected, a point also emphasized by officials in Johnson County who pointed out that PollChief is a system for managing election workers.

“It is not and has never been connected to the county’s voting machines or any vote tabulation, voter registration, financial or any county systems,” the county said

Johnson County had been working with law enforcement to determine if election worker data was improperly stored in a manner that violated its contract with Konnech.

Konnech officials had assured Election Commissioner Fred Sherman that Johnson County data was secure.

The county has had a contract with Konnech since 2016 and it was valued at $285,000 from 2016 through 2022.

The contract with the company ends this year.