ATLANTA (TSTIME) – Georgia’s secretary of state on Friday announced plans to replace election equipment in one province after “unauthorized access” to the equipment that occurred two months after the 2020 election.
A computer forensics team hired by allies of then-President Donald Trump traveled to Coffee County, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta, on Jan. 7, 2021. A representative of the company has said they have made full copies of the election management system server and other components of the election system. Later that month, two men involved in efforts to discredit the 2020 election results also spent hours in the polling station accessing the equipment.
Trump and his supporters made false claims about certain voting machines after he lost his bid for reelection. Authorities have said there is no evidence of widespread problems with voting equipment.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said an investigation into unauthorized access to the equipment by former Coffee County election officials is continuing.
“Anyone who has broken the law must be punished to the fullest extent,” Raffensperger said in a press release. “But current election officials in Coffee County should move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without this distraction.”
Security camera footage shows “former election officials in Coffee County granting unauthorized persons access to equipment that should have been secured under Georgian law,” the release said. The footage was shot in response to subpoenas from plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit against state election officials who allege the state’s touchscreen voting machines are not safe.
The county’s election management server and central scanner workstation were replaced earlier in June 2021, officials said. The county will receive 100 new touchscreen voting machines, 100 printers, 10 district scanners, 21 tablets used to check voters in, and new flash cards and thumb drives to be installed and tested before early voting begins next month.
Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the voting machine lawsuit, said the election management server and central scanner workstation also need to be replaced. She said that’s because they’ve been used in elections along with the other potentially contaminated equipment since their replacement last year.
Separately, election officials in the state’s most populous county, in and around Atlanta, said Friday they had fired an employee after learning that “personally identifiable information was being shared with an individual outside the organization,” news outlets reported.
“The person responsible for the incident is no longer working with Fulton County,” the county said in a press release. “Fulton County is committed to the safety and security of all citizens and employees. Any person affected by this incident will be notified and will be provided with credit monitoring services.”