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Fact Check: Georgia Senate Masquerades Failed Treasure Hunter as Hacker and Election Security Expert

During a recent Georgia State Senate hearing at the end of December, failed treasure hunter, J. Hutton Pulitzer, or Commander Pulitzer (no record of military experience), claimed that he had "hacked" Georgia's voting system. The treasure hunter provided no evidence during the Senate hearing that he had done so, only claiming it had happened.

Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger

“Fake news is hard enough to combat when mainstream media outlets push it out, but when a small cadre of Georgia legislators does it, it’s a whole different story,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “These legislators need to stop calling their own reelections illegitimate and focus on getting out the vote for the January 5 elections. The mistrust they are sowing is depressing turnout. If Senators Loeffler and Perdue lose on January 5, the Georgia state legislators have only themselves to blame.”

In another election disinformation filled hearing, a small group of Republicans in the Georgia State Senate featured the claims of failed inventor and failed treasure hunter J. Hutton Pulitzer as a star witness. In his presentation, Hutton Pulitzer, formerly J. Jovan Philylaw, claimed without providing any evidence that he had “hacked” a poll pad. He then went on to claim that meant that the entire voting system was compromised even though the poll pad, like the poll books which they have replaced, are never connected to the rest of the voting system.

Hutton Pulitzer was the inventor of CueCat, a cat shaped device that, when connected to the computer, allowed users to scan barcodes on ads that would bring up the website where they could purchase the advertised product. The device attracted $185 million in investment before becoming “an anathema of the tech industry and a cautionary tale for investors.” In 2006, it was listed as one of the “25 worst tech products of all time” by PC World magazine.

Hutton Pulitzer later became a treasure hunter, searching unsuccessfully for the Ark of the Covenant and later claiming that a sword, that was likely a fake, not only had “‘magical’ magnetic properties” but was also a sign that ancient Romans had visited North America by 200 A.D.

His published work is comprised largely of “Commanders Lost Treasures” books, a separate one for many states in the U.S., and includes “How to Cut Off Your Arm and Eat Your Dog.”

Despite Hutton’s claims, the Poll Pads are the only piece of election infrastructure that is ever hooked up to the internet or connected to devices that are hooked up to the internet. The poll pads have that capability so election workers can download updated voter lists to the poll pads that are used to check people in on Election Day. However, the Wifi capability is disabled before the poll pads are put in to use at the polling place.

Additionally, the touch screen interfaces and attached printers are never attached to the poll pads and are air-gapped so they cannot be connected to the internet. Finally, the scanners, which scan and tabulate the printed paper ballots that voters can review before casting, are not connected to any of the other equipment at any point either.

In a statement, poll pad creator KnowInk said: “The assertions made about unauthorized access to our systems are patently false. The man claiming that someone ‘got into’ our systems did not happen according to our forensic analysis. There was no ‘hack,’ there was no ‘back door’ entry, there was no ‘pump and dump,’ and there was no access through a ‘thermostat’ located hundreds of miles away in Savannah.”