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System used in Beaufort Co. election offices part of nationwide hack

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 6:41 PM EST
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A system used in election offices nationwide is the latest victim of hacking. The company says they recently became aware that previously secure data from their private server was available on the internet, forcing them to act quickly.

The data company involved says that no ballots or election results were compromised.

A third-party company called EasyVote used by both the Beaufort and Jasper County Board of Elections was hacked recently, leading to a breach of private information.

Here at the Beaufort office, the director says the payroll setup forms for two poll workers were compromised, meaning details like social security numbers and drivers licenses were at risk.

In a statement sent to WTOC, EasyVote says “The files were contained in an online storage location that is separate from EasyVote’s main system and data. We quickly disabled access to that storage location and transferred the data to a new environment with additional security controls.”

The company is used in election offices in Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Dallas, and Memphis, along with several counties in South Carolina. Here in Beaufort, they’ve been using EasyVote for years in a very specific role.

“What this system does is give us an opportunity to have mass communication with our poll managers,” said Marie Smalls, Director Board of Voter Registration and Elections, Beaufort County.

This is the first issue they’ve had with the system, and while she says the data breach is unfortunate there’s a critical point she wants made clear.

“Election integrity was not compromised at all.”

The company backs that up in their statement, saying “EasyVote’s software does not generate or record ballots and is not used to determine election results.”

Something Smalls reiterates.

“Easy Vote has nothing to do with any of our election equipment, it has nothing to do with our voter registration system. It’s an independent third party company.”

Back to what actually was taken in the hack, there’s an investigation now underway and the breach has prompted the county to send out this note to all 3,000 of it’s poll workers, warning them their private information may be at risk.

Smalls says they may look to make changes here in Beaufort County as they learn more about what happened, and she wants voters to stay informed about this investigation as well as it continues.

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