Two months after the 2020 presidential election, a team of computer experts traveled to southern Georgia to copy software and data from voting equipment in an apparent breach of the county’s election system. They were greeted outside by the local Republican Party chief, who joined then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his electoral defeat.
A security camera outside the election office in rural Coffee County captured their arrival. The footage also shows several local elections officials being in the office during what the Georgia secretary of state’s office has described as “unauthorized access” to voting equipment.
Security footage from two weeks later adds to the alarm – suggesting the two played a key role in Trump’s broader effort to sabotage the election results into office and stay for hours.
Security video from the county elections office about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta provides a glimpse into the time Trump’s allies have gone through in the service of fraudulent election claims. your. It continues to show how the approach is facilitated by local officials who are entrusted with securing elections while raising concerns about sensitive voting technology. released in the public domain.
Georgia isn’t the only state with voting equipment after the 2020 presidential election. Important information about the voting system was also compromised in election offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Colorado. Election security experts worry the information obtained – including complete 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 entrusted with it,” said attorney David Cross, who is representing the plaintiffs in a lengthy lawsuit involving Georgia’s voting machines.
Coffee County security footage obtained through that lawsuit alleges that Georgia’s touchscreen voting machines are vulnerable and should be replaced with paper ballots marked with hand. The lawsuit has been around for a long time and does not involve false allegations of widespread election fraud made by Trump and his allies after the 2020 election.
The alleged breach in the Coffee County election office has also drawn the attention of Fulton County Attorney Fani Willis, who is overseeing the investigation into whether Trump and his allies tried to illegally influence the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Last month, Willis cited the Coffee Bean operation, among other things, when she sought to obtain testimony from Sidney Powell, an attorney deeply involved in Trump’s effort to annul the election results. nominate.
Other emails and filings show that Powell and other attorneys connected to Trump helped arrange for a team from data solutions firm SullivanStrickler to Coffee County, where Trump won nearly 40 percentage points.
Surveillance video, emails, and other documents that shed light on what happened there in January 2021 were created in response to a subpoena issued in the voting machine lawsuit and were obtained by the Associated Press. get. Portions of the security video appear to contradict the statements of several local officials:
– Footage shows Cathy Latham, then president 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 Congress USA. Just a few weeks earlier, she was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who had signed a false certificate stating that Trump had won the state and claiming that they were “validly and qualified” by the state.
Minutes after arriving, she was seen outside greeting SullivanStrickler chief executive Paul Maggio and two others. Less than 10 minutes later, she escorted two other men into the building.
The video shows her leaving the elections office shortly before 1:30 p.m., about two hours after she saluted the SullivanStrickler team. She returned a little before 4pm and then left around 6:15pm
Latham swore during her removal from office in August that she stopped by the elections office that night “Just a few minutes” and left before 5 p.m. Her schedule proposal as a teacher wouldn’t allow it.
An attorney for SullivanStrickler said in an email attached to court filings that Latham was the “primary point of contact” in coordinating the company’s work and was “on the scene” while that work was being carried out. complete.
Robert Cheeley, an attorney for Latham, said in an emailed statement that his client does not remember all the details of that day. But he said she “will not and will not knowingly engage in any improper conduct in any election” and “has not acted improperly or illegally.”
– The video also shows Eric Chaney, a member of Coffee County’s election committee, arriving shortly before 11 a.m. on the same day and in and out several times before leaving around 7:40 p.m. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the voting machine case wrote in the court filing that a photograph taken by SullivanStrickler’s COO shows Chaney in the office when the copying was taking place.
During his removal from office last month, Chaney declined to answer many questions about that date, citing Fifth Amendment reasons. But when an attorney representing the county contacted him in April about questions from The Washington Post, Chaney wrote, “I am neither aware of nor at the office of the County Registrar of Voters and Elections. Coffee when anyone gains unauthorized access to the server or the room it’s in. Chaney resigned from the electoral commission last month, days before being removed from office.
Attempts to contact Chaney by phone were unsuccessful, and his attorney did not respond to emails seeking comment.
– About two weeks after the initial breach, video shows Misty Hampton – then the county elections director – arriving at the elections office at 4:20 p.m. on January 18, when it closed for Martin Luther King Day Jr. She unlocked the door and let in two men – Doug Logan and Jeff Lenberg, who were active in the effort to challenge the 2020 election results.
Logan founded Cyber Ninjas, participated in a partisan and ultimately discredited review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona. The two men stayed inside until just after 8pm and then spent more than nine hours there the next day. Lenberg returned for a brief visit for at least three more days later that month.
Hampton stepped down as election supervisor in February 2021 after election board officials said she falsified her timesheets. AP’s attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
In a statement released by his attorney, SullivanStrickler said the company was withheld by attorneys for copying the voting machines used in the 2020 election and had no reason to do so. believe they will ask their employees to do anything that is not right.
The Georgia secretary of state’s office said it opened an investigation in March and requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation last month. State officials say the system remains secure because there are many safeguards in place.