Washington Post: Activist allegedly entered Coffee County system after 2020 election
COFFEE COUNTY, Georgia — The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is investigating whether an activist gained inappropriate access to an election server in a county in 2021.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Coffee County election officials may have given access to a man who was part of a network of Donald Trump supporters exploring ways to void the November 2020 election.
If true, it raises new questions about the security of Georgia’s computerized voting machines.
Although Republicans led by former President Donald Trump have complained about election security since Trump’s 2020 defeat, tech experts have been warning for years that computerized election systems are vulnerable to hacking. Access to servers, as reportedly happened in Coffee County, is a step towards a successful infection of election systems, they say.
The Post obtained audio allegedly from an election denier named Scott Hall who claimed he was leading a team that was copying election computer software in South Georgia County – potentially exposing statewide election computers to the piracy.
“They went to Coffee County, Georgia,” Hall’s voice allegedly said in the audio. “They went over there and imaged every hard drive in every piece of equipment. Every probing block. Everything.”
Election activist Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance recorded the conversation.
In a statement, Marks said:
“CGG calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged election security breach in Coffee County and for Georgia authorities to immediately mitigate the risk of election interference by limiting the use of electronic ballot marking devices. “
11Alive previously reported that Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates asked the state Board of Elections to use emergency rules to switch to hand-marked paper ballots during the remainder of the 2022 primary election. The SEB did not respond.
“Here are the facts. Georgia is now recognized as number one in election integrity,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a debate at the Atlanta Press Club last week.
He was a strong advocate for the state’s computerized voting system, even as many states reverted to paper. Ten years ago, only 37% of voters used hand-marked paper ballots. Now it’s 67%, according to verificationvoting.org.
Republican nominee for Secretary of State David Belle Isle, along with Democrats Bee Nguyen, Dee Dawkins-Haigler and John Eaves said they have called on the state to abandon computerized ballot marking devices.
Republican TJ Hudson said he preferred the computerized system. Democrats Michael Owens and Floyd Griffin said they would consider it part of a broader security overhaul. Jody Hice did not respond to a request for her position.
“We’ve been told by all the cybersecurity experts that hand-marked paper ballots with an verifiable trail are the most secure form of voting,” Nguyen, a state representative, said during a debate. at the Atlanta Press Club.
The Secretary of State’s office is currently investigating what happened in Coffee County and how it could expose Georgia’s computerized voting machines to hackers.