U.S. Election Software Company Previously Built Confucius Institute 'Communication Platform'
Konnech Inc., creator of the 'PollChief' software used by 'thousands of Election Offices across North America' built ChineseBrief.com for the Confucius Institute.
Konnech Inc., an American election technology company founded in 2002 based in Okemos outside of East Lansing, Michigan, previously built ChineseBrief.com, a ‘unique interactive communication platform and Chinese language learning tool’ for the Confucius Institute, according to the company’s Facebook page and an archived webpage of Michigan State University’s Confucius Institute.
According to Konnech’s website, the company’s ‘PollChief’ software products, which include the ‘Election Worker Management System’, ‘Asset Management System’, and ‘HelpDesk’ are used by “thousands of Election Offices across North America”.
Konnech’s software helps manage the poll workers, polling locations, campaigns, assets, mail-in ballots, and supplies necessary to run elections in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
In December 2006, the company posted on their Facebook page, “… Confucius Institute at Michigan State University has reached an agreement with Konnech, Inc. to build ChineseBrief.com—a unique interactive communication platform and Chinese language learning tool.”
In February 2007, an archived webpage of the Michigan State University’s Confucius Institute announced, “The Confucius Institute recently signed an agreement with the Okemos, MI based company Konnech to offer daily 3-5 minute Mandarin lessons delivered to your phone. The phonecasts are sent based on a schedule setup by the user with an on-line interface. The service will be initially free for a limited time. Registration for the service will be available soon.”
A May 19, 2020, article published at InQueensland says, “count reporting problems on election night” were partly the result of “a new computer system not being tested as planned because “coding resources” were locked down in Wuhan”.
The article explained that the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works conceded it had been a “difficult few years” — starting with the former commissioner’s “decision to acquire the Konnech system”.
Queensland Chief Digital Officer Chris Fechner said: “The delivery of the project was further impacted in the final development and bug fixing stages during January and February 2020, as most of the coding resources were based in Wuhan China and were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 lock-down”.
On July 15, 2020 according to records of the proceedings in Queensland Parliament, MP Fiona Simpson asked the Queensland Premier why, “foreign owned company Konnech was given an important contract to produce the software to administer Queensland’s elections using China based coders over every Queensland coding firm?”
At least three other Members of Parliament — Mr. Lister, Mr. Crandon, and Dr. Robinson — asked similar questions about Konnech, according to Queensland Parliament records.
According to his Linkedin, Eugene Yu, the CEO of Konnech Inc., graduated from Zhejiang University in Zhejiang, China, with a bachelors degree in 1982 and from Wake Forest University with an MBA in 1988. He is a native Chinese and English speaker.
An October 26, 2018 article written in The West Australian entitled ‘Hacking over new software management system at Queensland’s Electoral Commission’ says: “Yu has acknowledged that he uses a team of software developers in China for his election-
related projects, including the new system expected to be operational in Queensland for the March 2020 local government poll.”
George Giddings, who worked for Konnech Inc. in 2007, states on his Linkedin page that his experience from the company consisted of, “Was in charge of the day to day business. Driving to detriot to help out the clients. Increase sales and traffic. Talk to the engineers in china during the night”, according to his Linkedin page.
Konnech Software Engineer, Wang Xiang, graduated from China’s Nanjing University with a bachelors degree in Computer Science in 2012. He speaks English and Chinese and went on to get his M.S. in Computer Science at the University of New Mexico where he managed the website of the ‘Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) of the University of New Mexico’, according to his Linkedin.
Former Konnech Chief Technical Officer, Peng Ge, who built software for Konnech Inc. in 2005 after graduating from the University of Science and Technology of China in Wuhan, China, the Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Science, and receiving his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Michigan State University, according to his Linkedin. Ge was later employed as a senior software engineer at Intel and Adobe.
Konnech data engineer, Xinyi L., also previously received her bachelors degree in China at Beijing Language and Culture University before getting masters degrees in Finance and Business Analytics at Michigan State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively, according to her Linkedin.
Former Konnech software engineer, Tingwei Li, who described her role as “Election Systems Designer” and worked on projects involving “Voting Systems, Election Management Systems, Election Apps” also received her bachelors degree in China at China Agricultural University, according to her Linkedin.
Former Konnech software engineer team lead, Shawn Ching, who now works at Amazon, received his bachelor and master degrees from Zhejiang University in China, according to his Linkedin.
Former Konnech project manager, Jingting Hu, who went on to work for China National Construction Bank and China Universal Asset Management, received his bachelors from Michigan State University after receiving certifications from Shenzhen College of International Education, according to his Linkedin.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and the Department of Defense’s Business Transformation Agency (BTA) list Konnech as a qualified election vendor according to a September 2010 House Committee on Armed Services document.
A 2011 City of Detroit Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) election contract proposal with Konnech Inc. posted on a DoD website is summarized below:
The 2011 City of Detroit contract with Konnech list the qualifications of the key people at Konnech involved with the project including CEO Eugene Yu, who graduated from Zhejian University in Zhejian, China, and software developer Heather Zeng who graduated with a Master’s Degree of Computer Science from the HuaZhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China.
An October 31, 2020 tweet from Konnech Inc says: “Election logistic means that we help election authorities mainly for their polling place selection, poll worker management, asset tracking and help desk. Currently, we are only focusing large cities and counties in North America.”