Georgia to replace voting machines in Coffee County after alleged security breach

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Friday that he plans to replace some election equipment in a southern Georgia county where forensics experts worked for pro-Trump lawyer Sidney last year. Powell copied virtually every component of the electoral system.

Raffensperger (R) said his office would replace machines in Coffee County “to allay fears fueled by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists.” He added that anyone who breaks the law in connection with unauthorized access to Coffee County machines should be punished, “but current Coffee County election officials need to move forward with the 2022 election, and they should to be able to do it without this distraction. .”

Some election security experts have expressed concern that copying Coffee County software — used across the state of Georgia — risks exposing the entire state to hackers, who could use the copied software as roadmap for finding and exploiting vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office said security protocols would make it virtually impossible to manipulate votes without detection.

The move comes after Raffensperger’s office spent months expressing skepticism that such a security breach had occurred in Coffee County. “There is no proof of any of this. That didn’t happen,” Gabe Sterling, chief operating officer of Raffensperger, said at a public event in April.

Since then, the fact that strangers have accessed the county’s voting machines – and copied sensitive software and data – has been confirmed by sworn depositions, CCTV footage from inside and outside the office. county election and other documents given to plaintiffs in long-running civil lawsuits. election security litigation in Georgia. The plaintiffs argue that the state should replace touchscreen voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots. Raffensperger and other Georgian officials are accused in this case. They deny that the electoral system is unsafe.

The announcement said Coffee County would receive new “ballot-marking devices,” the touchscreen voting machines that voters use to make their selections; printers for paper ballots with voter selections; ballot scanners used in constituencies; electronic notepads used to register voters at polling stations; and flash cards and USB sticks.

Two pieces of equipment that Coffee County forensic experts had access to — a central ballot scanner and the election management system server used to tally the results — had already been replaced by Raffensperger’s office in June 2021.

Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the civil litigation, said leaving these two pieces of equipment in place is “grossly inefficient”. They were used during the election along with the “presumed contaminated” devices which are now being replaced, and may now themselves be contaminated, she said.

Ahead of the announcement, Susan Greenhalgh, senior election security adviser for the nonprofit Free Speech for People and consultant for the Coalition for Good Governance, said the replacement of machines in Coffee County is necessary but not sufficient to stem the electoral risk. security in Georgia.

“You still have the general problem that the software has been released into the wild to countless people who may have bad intentions and who may use it to find ways to manipulate an election,” Greenhalgh told reporters during the interview. a press conference earlier this week. .

Video footage shows a team from Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler spent about eight hours at the county’s election office on Jan. 7, 2021, copying software from Dominion Voting Systems equipment and data from several USB and other flash drives. devices.

The county’s then-election supervisor told the Washington Post earlier this year that she allowed the team into the office to help find evidence that the election “wasn’t made out of true and correct way”. The video footage also shows Cathy Latham, then county Republican Party chairwoman, greeting SullivanStrickler’s team at the elections office and introducing them to local officials. His attorneys denied participating in the Jan. 7 copy or doing anything improper or illegal.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating a suspected computer intrusion of a Coffee County election server that day. A special grand jury in Atlanta, which was already examining the ‘fake voter’ scheme to keep President Donald Trump in power using fake voter certificates, recently expanded its investigation to include the Coffee County episode. .

The grand jury issued subpoenas, including to Powell and Sullivan Strickler. The company said in a statement to The Post that it was not the target of the investigation and that the company and its employees were witnesses in the case.

Sullivan Strickler said he believed the lawyers he worked for were allowed access to the voting machines and that the firm had no reason to believe the lawyers would ask him to do anything illegal or improper. ‘inappropriate. “We are confident that it will quickly become apparent that we did nothing wrong and acted in good faith at all times,” he said in a statement.

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