Data breach sparks concerns for Travis County poll workers

The scheduling of poll workers in previous elections in Travis County was done with a computer program called Poll Chief, sold by a Michigan based company called Konnech, Inc

The head of that company, earlier this month, was accused of illegally storing names of California poll workers on servers based in China.

"Those are not the people that I want having my information," said Erin Pardeiro a Travis County poll worker.

Pardeiro and others recently got an email from interim Travis County Elections Chief Rebecca Guerrero. It was essentially the press release the office sent out, although the email did offer standard consumer protection advice. 

Travis Co. Poll Workers were told because of the case in California, Travis County Elections will not use Konnech software to schedule poll workers for the upcoming election in Travis County. The email went on to state:

"At this point, the County has no reason to believe its poll worker data is involved. There is no evidence, allegation, or indication that Travis County poll worker information has been compromised."

Pardeiro is not convinced her information has not been compromised.

"They cannot confirm that our information is in China. They also cannot confirm that our information is not in China," said Pardeiro.

The Konnech software is not used to count votes and the state does not certify computer software that counties purchase to manage poll workers. In a statement from Secretary of State John Scott, he noted the software was not directly linked to voting, but did not dismiss how serious the situation was. 

"It is always concerning when any piece of the election infrastructure or its data is potentially compromised, as it has the potential to undermine public confidence in the security of elections. Our elections must be secure and transparent from beginning to end and at every step in the process," stated Scott.

"This is a lot of bad P.R. at a very bad time," said political analyst Brian Smith with St. Edwards University.

The Konnech case, Smith warned, will be widely viewed politically and not simply as a consumer fraud story.

"So if it just happens to be that it's a company where the CEO is not a good individual, that's an overreaction. But if people's voting data gets compromised, then that's indicative of a larger problem," said Smith.

The Konnech investigation, Smith noted, also comes at a time when many counties are having trouble recruiting poll workers. 

"Our information is sold and transmitted all the time without us really knowing about it. But it doesn't make it right. And people who are doing poll after poll workers, they don't want to even feel the least bit threatened that their information is then being shared because of what we saw on January 6, what we saw after the election of Donald Trump. People who are part of the electoral process want to be safe in their vote. And people who are counting the votes want to be safe in that process as well," said Smith.

The possibility of political intimidation is a concern for Pardeiro.

"So I'm not saying that Travis County has done anything nefarious. I'm just saying that this is a company that was used in over 30 counties in the United States, and we're just now finding out about it. And that is concerning not only that, that they have my information, that they know I'm an election worker, and they know where I work when I work the election. Why do they know that," said Pardeiro.

The Travis County DA’s Office has not responded to FOX 7’s request as to if DA Garza has opened a formal investigation into whether Konnech has mishandled Travis County Poll Worker information.