How rural Coffee County in Georgia became a flashpoint in 2020 election uproar

In this Jan. 7, 2021, image taken from Coffee County, Ga., security video, Cathy Latham (center) is seen in the local elections office in Douglas, Ga., while a computer forensics team was there to make copies of voting equipment. (Coffee County, Georgia via AP)

How rural Coffee County in Georgia became a flashpoint in 2020 election uproar

Ryan King

October 28, 02:23 PM October 28, 02:24 PM

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Several days after former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, an election worker in rural Coffee County, Georgia, caught the eye of Trump’s team, planting the seeds for an alleged breach that is now subject to a criminal investigation.

Coffee County elections supervisor Misty Hampton raised concerns that new voting machines rolled out in the Peach State could “very easily” fall prey to manipulation and fretted in a county elections board meeting that while she correctly oversaw election tabulation, others may not have been so honest, the Washington Post reported.


“Yes there are several checkpoints for the honest person, but the honest person is not in every county,” Hampton argued, according to minutes of the Nov. 10 meeting reviewed by the Washington Post.

“I am seeking the official meeting minutes and audio of this morning’s (11/10) Board of Elections (or, Commissioners) meeting. I understand Coffee County voting systems were discussed in detail, and I would like to obtain as much information as possible under Georgia Open Records laws,” Trump campaign staffer Robert Sinners told her in an email after catching wind of her concerns, per the report.

Georgia reportedly rolled out new voter machines from Dominion Voting Systems earlier that year to modernize the paperless voting machines it had been using. The new machines came against the backdrop of a 2017 lawsuit from the Coalition for Good Governance, which remains active, that argued the state’s prior paperless systems had been vulnerable to hacking, per the outlet. Plaintiffs in the case have apparently been unsatisfied with the security of the new machines as well.

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Hampton claimed she learned that an election supervisor could have a ballot marked for one candidate get tabulated for another, which would be illegal, per the report. Georgia conducted a hand-count of the 2020 election amid the uproar, which affirmed President Joe Biden’s victory and likely would have detected widespread malfeasance of that kind.

Coffee County officials later refused to certify the 2020 election results, arguing in a letter to the Georgia secretary of state the machines failed to “repeatably duplicate creditable election results,” according to the report. A subsequent state review reportedly attributed the problems to human error.

Trump’s campaign later referenced the letter and videos of Hampton discussing her concerns in a court petition challenging the 2020 election in the Peach State. Eventually, Georgia held a runoff election for the Senate on Jan. 5, 2021. During that time, Coffee County Republican Chairwoman Cathy Latham said that a ballot scanner jammed.

A board member called a technician to troubleshoot the problem, and suddenly, the machine started working, prompting Latham to become suspicious, per the report. The next day, footage showed Latham and others arriving at the election office.

She has reportedly maintained that she was at the office for reasons unrelated to the analysis of voting equipment that would be conducted by SullivanStrickler, a tech firm that conducted a number of analyses in counties across the country during the fallout from the 2020 election and had been tapped by Trump associates to do some of those assessments.

On Jan. 7, 2021, security footage captured SullivanStrickler workers and Coffee County officials in the county election office. SullivanStrickler specializes in making exact copies of data sets from electronic devices, the report added.

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A lawsuit against SullivanStrickler argued the forensics experts may have gained access to and copied sensitive voter data and “personally identifiable information” of nearly 7 million voters in Georgia, per the New York Times.

A SullivanStrickler representative argued in a deposition that the company was under the impression it had been given the OK to conduct an assessment of the systems in the office on the following day. Litigation over the matter is underway.

SullivanStrickler has maintained that it is cooperating with authorities investigating the matter. Last month, reports indicated that Georgia’s State Elections Board had requested the FBI’s help in a criminal inquiry into an election system breach in Coffee County.

Georgia officials also announced last month that they would replace voting machines in the county amid concerns over the alleged breach.

SullivanStrickler reportedly conducted examinations in Clark County, Nevada; Wayne County, Michigan; and Antrim County, Michigan, according to court documents. Records indicate that Trump-aligned lawyers, such as Sidney Powell, requested the company to conduct some of those audits.

Data assessed from SullivanStrickler’s review of Clark County and Antrim County were later exhibited in MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s election symposium last year, which prompted security concerns about the reviews.

The Washington Examiner reached out to SullivanStrickler for comment.

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