Last Updated on May 25, 2024

The Georgia Registered Voter Information System (GARVIS) was believed to be an updated measure to combat cyber-attacks. However, the recently deployed system had a statewide breakdown on Election Day yesterday.

According to a press release by VoterGA, an NGO geared towards securing elections, from 11 am to 4 pm, the Salesforce cloud-based system that allows third-party vendors to manage Georgian voter data suffered a critical outage, making the state’s “My Voter Page” inaccessible for those seeking to locate their precincts and other information. It also prevented county election offices from verifying absentee ballots and updating receipts of mail-in ballots, which prevents double voting.

VoterGA reported that the failure ultimately did not affect most voters since voter lists are downloaded to each poll pad for Election Day voter verification. Still, several counties utilized poll books with vulnerable remote GARVIS access.

The GARVIS initiative completed its development on January 19, 2022. The launch was initially delayed a year until March 2023. The Secretary of State’s office said the trial run was “successful” in the November 2023 municipal election. However, it had over 3,500 open support tickets just that year and freezing defect corrections for another month. This year’s primaries were the first opportunity for the system to be implemented statewide.

The press release indicated that the Secretary of State’s office tried to blame the problem on lack of funding, but the new system had never properly functioned since its implementation. VoterGA claimed election directors and board members had criticized GARVIS, wanting to return to the secured Enet system.

VoterGA additionally stated that Salesforce faced a class action lawsuit before signing the contract with Georgia. The platform became infected with malware that seized the Personal Identifying Information (PII) of nearly 20,000 customers, which was later sold on the “dark web.” The release stated that Salesforce never took the opportunity to alert its clients and customers of the breach.

To add to the debacle of such implementation, the GARVIS implementer, Texas-based MTX, had no election system experience, poor performance on a Texas no-bid contract and only a mere three American employees when signing the contract with the state of Georgia. VoterGA noted that the company outsourced its programming staff to India, where citizens are not sworn to uphold the US Constitution.

Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is also feeling the heat with a state lawsuit alleging his office did not have the authority to contract the new system. The suit claims the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t have the legal authority to place voter data in a cloud. By doing so, Raffensperger’s office violated election privacy law. The $3.5 million no-bid contract through Salesforce’s Carahsoft, too, exceeded the state’s $100,000 no-bid limit.

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The co-founder of VoterGA, Garland Favorito, said, “GARVIS has proven to be an election security and reliability crisis as we predicted before installation. Immediate action is required to secure voter data for the 2024 elections.”

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