Week 9 Blog: “Georgia Election Server Wiped After Suit Filed”: Record Retention Policies and Penalties of Law

According to a recent ABCnews article, a crucial sever at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University was wiped out several days after a lawsuit against Georgia election officals was filed; Kennesaw State’s Media Center attributed the server wipe to “standard operating procedure.”[1] Was this a clear and provable violation of the law? One provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA act) requires voting systems to be auditable and produce a paper record available as an official record (Pub.L. 107–252 SEC.301 a. 2.).[2] Records on this system should have a hard copy backup. According to the article, the plantiffs, who are mostly Georgia voters, want to have a new voting system. The current system includes “27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, hackable devices that don’t use paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of voter intent.”[3] How were these machines allowed to operate in seeming violation of the HAVA act of 2002? What did records managers have to say about this issue? The most important question may be, what was the record retention policy of the center and was the center legally notified to halt their standard procedure in order to protect the information on this server? Time will tell how this issue will play out, however, the implications of case like this are serious. We must ensure that good record management and archival practices are followed, from the creation of records to their preservation. We cannot rely on technology or honesty. Technology can fail and technology will fail—and technology can be made to fail.

 

[1] Bajak, Frank. “APNewsBreak: Georgia election server wiped after suit filed.” ABCNews. Accessed October 26, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/apnewsbreak-georgia-election-server-wiped-suit-filed-50729761.

[2] Government Publishing Office. “Help America Vote Act of 2002.” https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ252/html/PLAW-107publ252.htm.

[3] Bajak, Frank. “APNewsBreak: Georgia election server wiped after suit filed.” ABCNews. Accessed October 26, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/apnewsbreak-georgia-election-server-wiped-suit-filed-50729761.

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