Ga. county’s election equipment being replaced after breach

Georgia voting stickers
Georgia voting stickers(WRDW)
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 3:53 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s elections chief said Friday he’s replacing election equipment in Coffee County because former election officials allowed unauthorized access to it in violation of state laws.

“To allay the fears being stoked by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists, we’re replacing Coffee County’s election machines,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said.

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He said the current election officials in Coffee County need to move forward with the 2022 election, “and they should be able to do so without this distraction and the misinformation surrounding it.”

He said replacing the equipment will allay concerns that results aren’t accurate.

Footage from security cameras at the Coffee County elections office depicts former election officials there permitting access by unauthorized individuals to equipment that under Georgia law should have been secured, Raffensperger said.

“Voters expect to able to trust their election officials, and we rely on Georgia’s local election officials to follow the rules and laws that protect the integrity of Georgia elections,” Raffensperger said. “If the ongoing investigation by the State Election Board and the GBI uncovers violations of the law, those individuals should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.”

Brad Raffensperger speaks at the Georgia state Capital on April 11, 2022.
Brad Raffensperger speaks at the Georgia state Capital on April 11, 2022.(WRDW)

State officials previously replaced Coffee County’s election management server and central scanner workstation. Coffee County will be receiving 100 ballot marking devices, 100 printers, 10 Imagecast tabulators, 21 poll pads, and new flash cards and thumb drives in time for installation and testing before voting begins for the midterm election in November.

The equipment replacement comes after the public learned that a Republican Party official reportedly told a computer forensics team to copy components of the Coffee County voting system.

The apparent breach happened on Jan. 7, 2021, the day after a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of the election.

Interior security camera video from the Coffee County elections office shows Cathy Latham, the county Republican Party chair at the time, welcomed the computer forensics team when it arrived, introduced the team to local election officials and spent nearly all day there. She also instructed the team what to copy, which turned out to be “virtually every component of the voting system,” a court filing says.

Latham also was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate in December 2020 falsely stating that Trump had won the state and declaring that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

Trump in fact lost Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes to Democrat Joe Biden. The investigation into Trump’s efforts to change the results includes a phone call he made to Raffensperger suggesting Raffensperger could “find” just enough votes to make Trump the winner.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat who’s leading an investigation into Trump interference with the election results, has notified Latham and the other fake electors that they could face criminal charges.