Officials Dispute Findings in Antrim County Audit
"This is really a digital forensics question."
Dominion voting software was the focus of a hearing in Lansing on Tuesday where the CEO sat down to take questions from lawmakers. But Dominion is also the focus of an audit into Antrim County’s election process.
Antrim County resident Bill Bailey filed a lawsuit challenging the outcome of the election, specifically because of a marijuana ordinance in Central Lake. But that opened the door to claims about accuracy and security in the election.
We reported on that audit when a judge authorized its release to the public on Monday. The audit from Allied Security Operations Group – based in Texas – offered criticism of the voting machines and the election process in Antrim County.
But critics say it’s full of problems and claims that are incomplete – or just plain inaccurate. “It raised so many questions. I just thought, this is something that’s going to be in the public eye and it needs some context,” says Dr. Greg Gogolin, who is a cybersecurity expert and professor at Ferris State University.
Allied Security Operations Group – or ASOG – is behind the audit in Antrim County. But in addition to the questions raised about the audit – are questions about the Texas firm itself. “One of the first things you ask is what is your expertise in digital forensics? If you can’t find a track record in at least some of those spaces, then you wonder, is this person really an expert or not.” Dr. Gogolin adds, “There’s limited information provided, and it’s presented in a way that makes it difficult to follow the procedures that were done and to validate it – because it’s not presented in the way you’d normally see it.”
Dr. Gogolin notes that the audit – and the ASOG website – don’t say who worked on the report or list their credentials. And that’s a first step in trying to validate the research and the claims that are made. “There’s always two sides to every story. It may be that there’s accuracy in here. but until it’s validated you don’t know. it’s hard to accept it as 100% accurate, when the affidavits were so inaccurate.” Dr. Gogolin is referring to legal documents where ASOG referenced vote totals for Minnesota precincts but mistakenly identified them as being in Michigan. He says that raises red flags and calls accuracy into question.
“There (are) questions that were raised. There may be valid questions, they may not be valid questions. There (were) also insinuations and things that there may be security issues, but there is no evidence that there was a security breach.” He says that could be checked with a more thorough, independent audit. One example Dr. Gogolin cites is the audit’s claim that the Antrim County computers had outdated virus protection. “The report said the malware, or the antivirus was out of date. Not uncommon. But even if it was out of date, it doesn’t really matter, if there was no malware.”
Under the ASOG online “Products and Services”, the company lists “Election Fraud.” However clicking that link does not provide details about the company’s expertise, services, or experiences; but rather lists a host of links to “Election Fraud Interviews” done with various media sources – and a list of sources for Voter Information Fraud.
Meanwhile the Antrim County Clerk’s office released a statement on Tuesday afternoon. They say the county “has significant concerns regarding the Preliminary Summary submitted by Plaintiff’s forensic team. The collection team conducted themselves in a professional manner last week, the resulting report, however, is lacking professionalism. An analysis which should have been data and fact based is instead riddled with false and unsupported claims, baseless attacks, and incorrect use of technical terms. Additionally, the author of the report attempts to make conclusions of law well outside the scope of the investigation and expertise of a cyber security team. While the County is interested in knowing of any deficiencies in the election system and process, the conclusions of the preliminary report demonstrate an extreme lack of understanding of the election software and process.”
The Clerk’s Office response comes on the heels of Monday’s audit release, which also spurred response from the Secretary of State – and followed a written affidavit from the state Elections Director.
The Secretary of State’s Office wrote, “If the Trump campaign had any actual evidence of wrongdoing – or genuine suspicion thereof – they could have requested a hand recount of every ballot in the state.” Jocelyn Benson’s office continued, “They did not, instead choosing to allow shadowy organizations claiming expertise to throw around baseless claims of fraud in an effort to mislead American voters and undermine the integrity of the election.”
“The qualifications of those who authored the report are suspect, with no evidence or credentials provided to back up their ‘expertise.'” The Secretary of State’s Office added, “The Department of Attorney General will have the opportunity to request that the plaintiff’s report be stricken from use in these proceedings.”
Director of Elections Jonathan Brater wrote, “Although a detailed review of the report by an individual with technical expertise in Dominion Voting Systems technology would be necessary to respond to each of its preliminary conclusions, the report appears to make several unsupported allegations and conclusions.”
Dr. Gogolin says, “Certainly there are questions. But are they questions that change the vote? Or are they just operational types of things?” He also says the integrity and reputation of election volunteers and local clerks and their staff are important in an audit like this, and suggesting intentional or nefarious acts without proof is inappropriate. “To make it appear they were trying to change votes and so forth, without evidence that they did, that’s really dangerous.”
9&10 News reached out to the Texas company but they have not responded. 9&10 News searched three separate sources for election contributions, and found none connected to the “Allied Security Operations Group.” The sole name on the preliminary audit report is Russell Ramsland, Jr. Ramsland ran for Congress in Texas in 2016, as a Republican.
Meanwhile the state plans to do a manual audit in Antrim County – and that includes a recount of the ballots by hand. That’s due to start on Thursday.