The Georgia attorney general’s office will no longer represent state election officials in an elections integrity lawsuit in which a crucial computer server was quietly wiped clean three days after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The lawsuit aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized touchscreen election technology, which does not provide an auditable paper trail. The server in question was a statewide staging location for key election-related data. It made national headlines in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn’t fixed for six months after he first reported it to election authorities. Personal data was exposed for Georgia’s 6.7 million voters as were passwords used by county officials to access files. The assistant state attorney general handling the case, Cristina Correia, notified the court and participating attorneys Wednesday that her office was withdrawing from the case, according to an email obtained by the AP. Spokeswoman Katelyn McCreary offered no explanation and said she couldn’t comment “on pending matters.”
Correia’s email said “multiple counsel” are being appointed to represent Secretary of State Brian Kemp — the main defendant — and the other defendants. It does not say whether the state would pay those lawyers. Both Kemp and state Attorney General Chris Carr are Republicans.
The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system, Correia had previously informed attorneys in the case.
The erased hard drives are central to the lawsuit because they could have revealed whether Georgia’s most recent elections were compromised by hackers. Russian interference in U.S. politics, including attempts to penetrate voting systems, has been an acute national preoccupation since last year.