Georgia replaces voting machines in Coffee County after alleged security breach

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Ravensberger announced Friday that he plans to replace some electoral equipment in a southern Georgia county where forensic experts last year copied nearly every component of the voting system by pro-Trump attorney Sydney Powell.

Raffensperger (R) said his office would replace the machines in Coffee County “to allay concerns stoked by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists.” He added that anyone breaking the law regarding unauthorized access to Coffee County machines should be punished, “but the current Coffee County election officials should move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without such distraction.”

Some electoral security experts have expressed concerns that copying Coffee County – used statewide in Georgia – threatens to expose the entire state to hackers, who can use the copied software as a roadmap to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Raffensperger’s office said the security protocols would make it nearly impossible to tamper with voices undetected.

The move comes after the Raffensperger office spent months expressing its suspicion that such a security breach had occurred in Coffee County. “There’s no evidence of any of that. It didn’t happen,” Ravensberger’s chief operating officer, Gabe Sterling, said at a public event in April.

Since then, the fact that outsiders gained access to county voting machines — and copies of sensitive software and data — has been confirmed through sworn filings, video surveillance footage from inside and outside the county election office and other documents handed to prosecutors in long-running civil cases. Litigation over election security in Georgia. The plaintiffs argue that the state should replace touch-screen voting machines with hand-tagged paper ballots. Ravensberger and other Georgia officials are indicted in that case. They deny that the voting system is not secure.

The announcement said that Coffee County would receive “new voting education devices,” the touch-screen voting machines that voters use to make their choices; paper ballot printers with voters’ choices; Ballot scanning devices used in electoral districts; Electronic polling platforms used to screen voters at polling places; flash cards and thumb drives.

Two pieces of equipment accessed by Kofi County forensic experts — a central polling scanner and the EMS server used to tally the results — were already replaced by the Ravensburger office in June 2021.

Leaving these two pieces of equipment in place is “highly ineffective,” said Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the civil lawsuit. It said it was used during the election with “supposedly contaminated” devices that are now being replaced, and can now become contaminated themselves.

Prior to the announcement, Susan Greenhalgh, senior electoral security advisor for the nonprofit Free Speech for People and an expert advisor on the Coalition for Good Governance, said replacing machines in Coffee County is necessary but not sufficient to stem the risks of election security in Georgia.

“You still have the general problem of unleashing the program into the wild to countless individuals who might have bad intentions who might use it to figure out ways to rig elections,” Greenhalgh told reporters at a briefing earlier this week. .

Video footage shows that a team from the Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler spent about eight hours in the county elections office on January 7, 2021, copying software from Dominion Voting Systems equipment and data from multiple memory cards and other devices.

The county election supervisor at the time told The Washington Post earlier this year that she allowed the team into the office to help find evidence that the election “did not take place properly and correctly.” The video also shows that County Republican Party chair Cathy Latham greeted Sullivan Strickler’s team at the election office and introduced them to local officials. Her lawyers denied that she participated in the January 7 copies or did anything improper or illegal.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating a suspected computer hack of the Kofi County election server that day. A special grand jury in Atlanta, which was already examining a “fake voter” scheme to keep President Donald Trump in power using fake election certificates, recently expanded its investigation to 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 she believed the lawyers she was working with had access to the voting machines, and that the company had no reason to believe that lawyers would ask her to do anything illegal or improper. “We are confident that it will quickly become clear that we have done nothing wrong and that we are acting in good faith at all times,” she said in a statement.

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