Not to be confused with the Swedish pop/schlager musical group of the 70s, the Georgia Registered Voter Information System, known by the acronym GRVIS or GARVIS (pronounced JARVIS), is the system that Georgia will be using to replace ElectioNet, or eNet, a system that was put into service in Georgia in 2013. After issues with wait times during the 2020 election, Georgia knew that eNet would not be able to handle future elections, and on September 17, 2021, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger signed a contract with an outside contractor to implement the new voter registration system. The Texas-based contractor, MTX, had never implemented a voter registration system before, and the number of press releases Raffensperger gave ‘announcing’ the new system should have been an indication that there were problems:
January 19, 2022 – Georgia elections chief announces new voter registration management system
Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger said the system would be online by March for the 2022 primary season.
January 15, 2023 – “GaRVIS, the New GA Voter Registration System is Ready to Go According to State Voting Officials. The much-anticipated new system goes fully online this February 6th with very high expectations.”
March 9, 2023 – Georgia debuts new voter registration system, sunsets previous one. See also this press release from the Secretary of State, “Secretary Raffensperger Announces Launch of Georgia Registered Voter Information System – GARViS“
The plan was to have the system in such good shape that it could be used for the 2022 elections, including the primary. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Originally promised to be online by March of 2022, just barely in time for the May 2022 primaries, the attempted rollout was scrubbed at the last minute. In April, weeks before early voting began, election workers were told to switch back to eNet.
GARVIS – The Pieces and the Players
GARVIS – Essentially a huge database, GARVIS will contain not only the 12 million state voter records (8 million Active and Inactive voters, plus about 4 million canceled voter records) but also over 100 million voter history records. Among other things, it must be constantly updated by numerous people all over the state, receive records from the Department of Driver Services, respond to report requests and voter status inquiries, and, most importantly, validate every voter during the election in 159 counties.
MTX – The Texas-based contractor that was hired to implement the GARVIS system. The MTX contract was signed on September 17th, 2021, by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. This contract specified that work would begin on 9/15/21 and conclude on 11/30/22. As previously mentioned, MTX was new to the voter registration business. If you view the link to the contract above, you will discover that the contract not only included a new Voter Registration system, but also a porting of the Professional Licensing Boards and the Corporations database to Salesforce.
Salesforce – Surprise! Your voter records and history are now in the cloud with the CRM company Salesforce. Realize that this includes everything needed to steal your identity – your name, address, birthday, driver’s license number, and even your social security number. This database is just asking to be hacked.
And remember when Amazon shut down Parler? The social media service contracted with AWS to host its site, but when Amazon decided they didn’t like how Parler did business, they pulled the plug, leaving Parler dead in the water. When Georgia tried to improve our voter security a few years back, Salesforce posted the following:
What happens when Salesforce decides to hold Georgia’s voter records hostage to satisfy some woke agenda?
“Nobody, no government anywhere, launches something this large, this big, this fast, this well, other than Georgia … We’re still in what’s called the ‘warranty period’ right now, which means we still have little things we’re trying to fix, little things we’re working on.”Gabe Sterling, March, 2023
What “little things” were they working on?
Open Records Request submitted May, 2023:
“I have heard that there have been some issues reported with the implementation of the new GRVIS voter registration system. Please provide a list of all trouble tickets, bug reports, or issues submitted by any Georgia county in 2023 related to the GRVIS system.”
Response from Georgia Secretary of State:
“The time estimate for production is three months. We have over 3,500 items. Please let me know within three business days if we should proceed.”
In a meeting from May of this year, Blake Evans, the State Elections Director, admitted that sometimes MTX will roll out an update, and it will break other parts of the program. He actually said, “That’s Product Development.” No, Mr. Evans, that is not product development – that is an indication of a system in development that does not follow best practices on testing and version releases.
Updates to GARVIS have now been frozen, and the next update will not be made until December 2023. Election officials are, understandably, worried that this is getting too close to the March 12, 2024, Presidential Preference primary, where voting begins in February.
Yes, there are still many, many bugs in the software. However, the issue that is of most concern to election officials is the integrity and reliability of the voter data. An easy way to check this is to purchase voter registration files from the Secretary of State and compare current records with those from a date before GARVIS. The state has over 7 million voters, but we can make the task easier by picking a single county and seeing how they did. We picked Gwinnett County, Georgia, and compared the registered voter list from December 2020 with one from July of 2023. With over 650,000 voters, this is a good sampling of what might be happening in the rest of the state. Here is what we discovered:
408 voters have been duplicated. Many have the same registration date
- Of the 844 affected records (there are more records than voters because all have at least one duplicate), about 550 of the registration dates are after January 2023. They each have different Registration Numbers.
- 385 of these voters have a single duplicate.
- 17 have two duplicates, for a total of three of the same voter
- 6 actually have three duplicates, meaning that these special voters show up in the GARVIS database four times with four different registration numbers.
Missing or Bad Data Fields
With the July, 2023 file we found 305 voter records with missing or bad data. Of those:
- 42 voters have their Residence street name listed as “MISSING ADDRESS.” Some of those have a street number, some do not.
- 174 have a blank field for Residence Street Name, City and Zip Code (NOTE: This could be voters like victims of domestic violence who have their names hidden from the public voter files)
- 15 voters have a Residence street name of “CANCELLED VOTER STREET,” even though every one of these is listed as an “ACTIVE” voter.
- 52 voters have the last name “NA”
- 19 voters have the first name “NA.”
- 1,753 records from the 2023 file have a different Registration Date than they did in the 2020 file.
- Almost 12,000 voters (11,972) have a Registration date before the Creation date.
- 339 voters had their gender changed from 2020 to 2023.
In the first six months of every odd-number year, Georgia is supposed to purge some of the inactive voters. Gwinnett was scheduled to have 19,673 voters removed in August. So, what did the September Gwinnett voter roll show?
- 22,309 fewer registered voters than the July 2023 roll, almost in line with the planned removal. But…
- 30,174 were removed, 10,629 more than were marked. 19,545 of those removed were on the removal list; the rest were not.
- 4,308 of those voters removed were listed as “Active” in the July file
- 7,865 voters were added to the voter roll since July. Of those added, 1,275 have a registration date before July. This means many of these voters were active despite not appearing on the July voter roll. The earliest registration date of those added since July was May of 1984.
- 313 voters had their registration date changed. Almost all (292 of them) were changed from a date that looked valid to January 1, 1 AD.
- 44 of the 174 names with blank addresses in July were removed, even though all were listed as an Active Voter in the July file.
- The number of voters who now had duplicate records went from 408 two months ago to 609
Remember – this is just one county!
Finally – the Cost
Here is where things get a little fuzzy. Georgia has made only two statements regarding cost that we can find. The first, at the beginning of 2022, gave a total of “about $3.5 million.” The second, from March of 2023, listed a “cost of about $4 million.” To get an actual estimate, we need to look at the contracts. The $7.7 million MTX contract is for a “single portal for all constituent activities for the Professional Licensing Board Division, Corporations Division, and Voter Registration of the Elections Division” and breaks down as follows:
$3.5 million – Professional Licensing Board Division
$2.1 million – Corporations Division
$2.1 million – Voter Registration of the Elections Division
There is also a $417,200 annual maintenance contract with MTX.
The Salesforce costs do not appear to have been broken out for the first year (7/6/22 to 7/5/23). The total for that year was $2.3 million. The Salesforce costs for the following year (7/6/23 to 7/5/24) were broken out, and of the $2.5 million total, $1.8 million was allocated to the Voter Registration portion. Assuming the ratio was similar for the first year, the Salesforce charges for GARVIS could have been around $3.3 million through July 2023. To get to July of 2024, the total will be around $5.1 million.
It appears that the State did not purchase directly from the vendors, instead paying for everything through a third party, Carahsoft. We have combined all the contracts into a single file, which you can find below.AllContracts
Disclaimer – There are a lot of numbers and data in this article, and while we were very careful, it is likely that we made a few mistakes along the way. All data and articles came from publically available sources, some from Open Records Requests.