ATLANTA (AP) — Two months after the 2020 presidential election, a team of computer experts went to south Georgia and copied software and data from voting equipment in an apparent violation of the county’s election system.. They were greeted outside by the local Republican Party chairman, who was involved in then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse his election loss.
Their arrival was captured on a security camera outside an election office in rural Coffee County. The footage also shows some local election officials were in the office when the Georgia Secretary of State described the election equipment as “unauthorized access.”
Security footage taken two weeks later raises additional alarms — showing two men entering the office and staying for hours, implicated in Trump’s broader efforts to undermine the election results.
Security video from the elections office in the county, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta, offers a glimpse of the lengths to which Trump’s allies went to service his fraudulent election claims. It further shows how access was facilitated by local authorities charged with maintaining electoral security.
Georgia isn’t the only state to access voting machines after the 2020 presidential election. Key information about voting systems at election offices in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania was also compromised. and Colorado. Election security experts worry that the information obtained, including full copies of hard drives, could be used By those who want to interfere in future elections.
“The system is only as secure as the people who keep it secure,” said David Gross, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the long-running lawsuit over Georgia’s voting machines.
Coffee County security footage obtained through the lawsuit claims that Georgia’s touch-screen voting machines are vulnerable to attack and should be replaced with hand-marked paper ballots. The case goes back a long time and is unrelated to the allegations of wrongdoing Widespread election fraud pushed by Trump and his allies after the 2020 election.
The alleged breach at Coffee County’s election office has also drawn the attention of Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis, who is overseeing an investigation into whether Trump and his allies illegally tried to influence the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia.
Last month, Willis cited the Coffee County action, among other things, in which he sought to compel the testimony From Sidney Powell, a deeply committed advocate In Trump’s attempt to overturn the election results.
Emails and other records show that Powell and other lawyers associated with Trump helped organize a group Trump won by nearly 40 percentage points to travel to Coffee County from data solutions firm SullivanStrickler.
Surveillance video, emails and other documents that shed light on what happened there in January 2021 were produced in response to subpoenas issued in the voting machine case and obtained by The Associated Press. Parts of the security video appear to contradict the claims of local authorities:
— Footage captures Cathy Latham, chairwoman of the Coffee County Republican Party, arriving at the election office shortly after 11:30 a.m. on January 7, 2021, the day after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. A few weeks ago, he was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a false certificate claiming Trump had won the state and declaring they were “duly elected and qualified” voters in the state.
Minutes after her arrival, she can be seen greeting SullivanStrickler Chief Operating Officer Paul Maggio and two other men. Within 10 minutes, she leads two other men into the building.
Video shows Sullivanstrickler leaving the election office just before 1:30 p.m., about two hours after greeting the team. She returns shortly before 4pm and leaves around 6:15pm
During a deposition in August, Latham said she stopped by the election office for “a few minutes” that evening and left before 5 p.m. When pressed about whether she had been there the day before, Latham said she couldn’t remember. A teacher suggested his schedule would not have allowed it.
An attorney for SullivanStrickler said in an email attached to the court filing that Latham was the “primary contact” in coordinating the firm’s work and was “on site” when that work was completed.
Latham’s attorney, Robert Seeley, said in an emailed statement that his client does not remember all the details of that day. But he said he “will not and has not knowingly engaged in any malpractice in any election” and “has not acted improperly or illegally”.
– The video also shows Eric Chaney, a member of Coffee County’s Board of Elections, arriving before 11 a.m. that same day and going in and out several times before attorneys for the plaintiffs in the voting machine lawsuit arrived at 7:40 p.m. A photo produced by SullivanStrickler’s COO showed Chaney in the office where the copying was taking place, the court filing said.
During a deposition last month, Chaney refused to answer several questions about that day, citing the Fifth Amendment. But when contacted in April by an attorney representing the county about questions from The Washington Post, Chaney wrote, “I was not aware of, nor was the office of the Coffey County Board of Elections and Registration aware of, anyone illegally accessing the server. Or the room it’s in. Chani resigned from the Election Commission last month.
Attempts to reach Chaney by phone were unsuccessful, and his attorney did not respond to an email seeking comment.
– About two weeks after the initial breach, when the election office was closed at 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the video shows Misty Hampton, then the county’s director of elections, arriving at the election office. He opened the door and let in — Doug Logan and Jeff Lenberg, who are actively involved in efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.
Logan founded Cyber NinjasIt was subjected to a biased and ultimately discredited review 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona. The two men were inside after 8pm and spent more than nine hours there the next day. Lenberg returned later that month for at least three brief visits.
Hampton resigned as election supervisor in February 2021 after election board officials said she falsified her schedule. Attempts by AP to reach her were unsuccessful.
In a statement released by its attorney, SullivanStrickler said the company has been retained by prosecutors to forensically copy voting machines used in the 2020 election and has no reason to believe they would ask its employees to do anything improper.
The Georgia Secretary of State said he began an investigation in March and asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for help last month. State officials say the system is safe because of several safeguards.
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