(CBrief) – The State Election Board in Georgia has asked for the help of the FBI in a criminal investigation into a breach of its systems in Coffee County.
The board highlighted similar breaches in other states and asked to collaborate with the FBI as it also examines communications between officials in Spalding County, Georgia, and SullivanStrickler, the Washington Examiner reported.
The board has received documents that include an “unexecuted engagement agreement” for SullivanStrickler to forensically image voting systems in Spalding County, Georgia, Duffey said. The move represents an escalation by state investigators in Georgia, raising new questions about whether the same group of individuals involved in the Coffee County breach sought access to voting systems in other parts of the state as well.
Duffey said it remains unclear why Spalding County was interested in having SullivanStrickler conduct this kind of work but that the board is investigating whether there is any link to what happened in Coffee County. It is also unclear if voting systems in Spalding County were breached. Duffey noted that he has asked for an update from the FBI regarding the status of its participation in the state-level Georgia probe related to Coffee County but does not yet know what the bureau is doing, if anything, at this time.
“The conduct in Coffee County is similar to conduct in Antrim County, Michigan, and Clark County, Nevada,” elections board Chairman William Duffey Jr. said.
“We did not image any equipment in Spalding County,” a SullivanStrickler attorney said. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation as we have done up until now.”
Officials plan to replace voting equipment in the county following “unauthorized access” to it just two months after the 2020 election, the Associated Press reported.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger noted that an investigation into the unauthorized access by former elections officials with Coffee County is ongoing.
“Anyone who broke the law should be punished to its full extent,” he 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.”
The FBI announced earlier this month that they have “identified no credible threats” to U.S. election systems as the November midterms loom.
“A month before the anticipated midterm vote, the officials said they were closely monitoring potential threats to election workers in the U.S. after local officials reported a wave of harassment and abuse before and after the contentious 2020 presidential election. Since June 2021, the federal Elections Threat Task Force has reviewed more than 1,000 reports. About 11% of those met the threshold for a federal investigation, so far resulting in four arrests,” the Statesman reported.
“The bulk of the potential criminal threats involved election workers in seven states – Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin – where the vote was close and involved post-election challenge,” the outlet added.
FBI officials stated that there was no evidence that election systems had been targeted in an effort to disrupt operations or manipulate results. The officials said that a significant compromise of a decentralized local election system in the country would be “very difficult.”
“Georgia’s replacement of the electronic voting systems with a hybrid of electronic and paper voting systems, while largely a move to do away with any future allegations of election fraud, has now come full circle and is viewed by critics as insufficient to stop future election fraud. Critics believe the Republican investigators compromised the machines and have paved the way for other hackers,” the Examiner reported.
“You still have the overall problem that the software has been released into the wild to countless individuals who may have ill intent and who may be using it to figure out ways to manipulate an election,” Susan Greenhalgh, a consulting expert for the left-wing Coalition for Good Governance, told reporters, according to the Washington Post.