A server and its backups, believed to be key to a pending federal lawsuit filed against Georgia election officials, was thoroughly deleted according to e-mails recently released under a public records request. Georgia previously came under heavy scrutiny after a researcher discovered significant problems with his home state’s voting system. A lawsuit soon followed in state court, asking the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The case, Curling v. Kemp, was filed in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3. As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the data was initially destroyed on July 7 by the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, the entity tasked with running the Peach State’s elections. The new e-mails, which were sent by the Coalition for Good Governance to Ars, show that Chris Dehner, one of the Information Security staffers, e-mailed his boss, Stephen Gay, to say that the two backup servers had been “degaussed three times.” No one from Kennesaw State University, including Dehner or Gay, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment as to who ordered the servers to be wiped and why it was done.
The e-mail from Dehner to Gay came the same day—August 9, 2017—that the lawsuit was moved from state to federal court. Neither the judge in state court nor the judge in federal court appears to have issued a “preservation order,” which would have required the state to hang on to the servers.
… Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the Coalition, a group that is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told Ars that she had issued a litigation hold notice to the defendants.
“They know that they are required to preserve all records when they are sued,” she e-mailed. “They don’t need court order. Even IF the SOS office didn’t have three dozen attorneys to tell them to preserve the records, they got this attached letter from us on July 10 and destroyed the second server hard drive on August 9.”