Voting Equipment To Be Replaced After ‘Unauthorized Access’

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

As the November midterm election draws near, the focus is on voting protocols and tools, especially the voting machines themselves.

After the 2020 election, many irregularities in voting were documented across the country, some due to mail-in voting, some due to voting rosters, some due to poll workers, and some due to machines that were somehow hacked or compromised in some way.

GPB News reports:

“Sensitive voting system passwords posted online. copies of confidential voting software are available for download. Ballot counting machines inspected by people not supposed to have access.

The list of suspected security breaches at local election offices since the 2020 election keeps growing, with investigations underway in at least three states – Colorado, Georgia, and Michigan.”

The report continues:

“Election security experts say the breaches by themselves have not necessarily increased threats to the November voting. Election officials already assume hostile foreign governments might have sensitive data, and so they take precautions to protect their voting systems.

Of course, the 2020 election is under fire from some conservative Republicans who say the numbers don’t add up for Joe Biden to have defeated Donald Trump.

Trump and his supporters have made claims about certain voting machines after he lost his bid for reelection. Authorities have said there was no evidence of widespread problems with voting equipment.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been accusing each other of voter fraud, and new accusations in Georgia are following old.

Recently in Fulton County, Georgia, election officials in the state’s most populous county in and around Atlanta, said Friday that they had fired a worker after learning that “personally identifiable information was shared with an individual outside the organization,” news outlets reported.

“The individual responsible for the incident no longer works with Fulton County,” the county said in a news release. “Fulton County is committed to the safety and security of all citizens and employees. Each individual affected by this incident will be notified and will receive credit monitoring services.”

In another instance that is resulting in a lawsuit, Fulton County Georgia, it seems security video appears to show Cathy Latham introducing members of a computer forensic team to local election officials. Latham was the county Republican Party chair at the time. The computer forensics team was at the county elections office in Douglas, Ga., to make copies of voting equipment in an effort that documents show was arranged by Sidney Powell and other Republicans.

Georgia is connecting these actions to Donald Trump, as the Republicans shown in the video footage are Trump voters.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said an investigation into the unauthorized access to the equipment by former Coffee County election officials continues.

Georgia’s secretary of state deemed this “unauthorized access” to the equipment that happened two months after the 2020 election.

The unfolding story so far is that computer forensics team hired by Republicans traveled to Coffee County, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta, on Jan. 7, 2021.

A company representative has said they made complete copies of the election management system server and other election system components.

The Fulton County official that authorized the team to assess the equipment is a Trump supporter, therefore the investigation deems the action Trump-connected.

Another scenario in the investigation is that later that month, two men who have been involved in efforts to discredit the 2020 election results also spent hours inside the elections office with access to the equipment.

The Georgia Secretary of State on Friday announced plans to replace election equipment in one county with a press release about the matter.

“Anyone who broke the law should be punished to its full extent,” Raffensperger said in a news release. “But the current election officials in Coffee County have to move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without this distraction.”

Footage from security cameras shows “former election officials in Coffee County permitting access by unauthorized individuals to equipment that under Georgia law should have been secured,” the release said. The footage was produced in response to subpoenas issued by plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit against state election officials that claims the state’s touchscreen voting machines aren’t secure.

The equipment is said to have been replaced after the 2020 elections, and new equipment is on the way as well.

The county’s election management server and central scanner workstation were previously replaced in June 2021, officials have said. The county will receive 100 new touchscreen voting machines, 100 printers, 10 precinct scanners, 21 tablets used to check in voters and new flash cards and thumb drives to be installed and tested before early voting begins next month.

But apparently certain machines are not automatically being replaced.

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 should also be replaced. She said that’s because they were used with the other potentially contaminated equipment in elections since their replacement last year, GPB News reports.

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