internal the secretive effort with the aid of Trump allies to access vote casting machines - The Washington post

October 28, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

The coffee County Elections and Registration office in Douglas, Ga. (Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington put up) touch upon this story


a week after the 2020 election, as Donald Trump raged over what he claimed changed into rampant fraud, officials in a rural county in southern Georgia got a disturbing document from the employee who ran their elections.

New voting machines in use across the state could "very with ease" be manipulated to flip votes from one candidate to one other, she claimed at a meeting of the county elections board, and ballots can be scanned and counted greater than once. She stressed that she had as it should be tallied the effects of their county, where Trump won in a landslide. however she pointed out now not all and sundry in positions like hers may well be relied on to do the identical.

"yes there are a few assess elements for the sincere grownup, however the honest grownup is not in every county," espresso County elections supervisor Misty Hampton instructed the board, according to minutes of the Nov. 10 meeting. One board member declared that the new equipment, made by Dominion balloting techniques, "SICKENS HIM."

Alerted by way of Hampton, Trump's group directly took hobby. "i want to acquire as plenty tips as feasible," a campaign staffer emailed Hampton that equal day.

The elections board meeting — a gathering of eight people in an unremarkable constructing 200 miles from Atlanta — spark off an unbelievable sequence of pursuits that plunged the GOP enclave into the middle of a multistate effort through fashionable Trump allies to profit entry to balloting machines in quest of purported evidence that the election became rigged.

In two circumstances, courts or state lawmakers granted Trump supporters access to the machines, which might be considered by using the federal executive to be "essential infrastructure" essential to countrywide security and are continually closely guarded. but in as a minimum seven other counties in four states, including espresso, native officers performing and not using a court docket order or subpoena allegedly gave outsiders entry to the machines or their information, a Washington put up examination discovered.

records copied from these machines has been misrepresented as empirical proof for the false claims of fraud that have warped American political discourse and spurred violence, certainly the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. these claims have additionally undermined have confidence in election consequences, together with within the upcoming midterm contests, which some candidates have already counseled they might also no longer settle for.

Claims of common election fraud have been rejected time and again by using local, state and federal officers in addition to through computing device science consultants and a lot of judges, including those appointed by using Trump. they have then again turn into an article of faith — or as a minimum a professed belief — for a lot of Republican voters, activists and politicians.

consultants say the events in espresso County are a effective illustration of the rising possibility posed through insiders who undermine election security within the name of protecting it. while elections officers say protection protocols would make it elaborate for bad actors to control votes, some specialists say the data — circulated beyond a constrained number of licensed officials — may supply hackers a magnificent device to simulate balloting machines and probe for weaknesses.

The operations no longer sanctioned with the aid of courts or lawmakers were clandestine affairs. In Mesa County, Colo., an outsider was allegedly smuggled into the elections workplace beneath an alias to replica data. In Michigan, a pro-Trump state lawmaker allegedly persuaded clerks in two counties to give up gadget for a residence investigation that, according to the workplace of the house speaker, did not exist. In coffee County, a local elections professional invoked his Fifth change correct to evade self-incrimination more than 200 times when questioned under oath lately for a protracted-operating lawsuit that voting activists brought in opposition t state officials.

coffee County become home to essentially the most huge of the early covert efforts that have come to gentle. In January 2021, forensics consultants copied records from very nearly every element of the vote casting system there, statistics exhibit. The incursion supplied pro-Trump election deniers with copies of sensitive election application used across Georgia, a state largely viewed as a linchpin in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate in 2022 and the White residence in 2024.

coffee County, Ga. GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham and digital forensics experts hired with the aid of legal professionals allied with former president Trump on Jan. 7, 2021. (Video: obtained by using The Washington publish)

The publish examination suggests how unfounded suspicions in espresso County spiraled into an alleged breach that became prepared partially by using professional-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and paid for by way of her nonprofit, which on the time counted former national safety adviser Michael T. Flynn among its administrators. This account is in response to interviews and documents bought through public-records requests as well as surveillance video, textual content messages, and depositions and other records that were gathered through the plaintiffs within the lengthy-working lawsuit, who contend that Georgia's elections are not comfortable.

in response to a request for comment, Powell referred The post to her testimony earlier than the condominium select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. That testimony is not public. Flynn didn't reply to identical inquiries.

Hampton, who has additionally used the surnames Hayes and Martin in recent years, has no longer spoke back to messages from The post seeing that earlier this year, before the copying episode in coffee County turned into tested. "I'm now not going to toot my own horn," she stated then, "however I knew the election system backward and forward, and that i would put myself in the proper 10 election supervisors throughout the state of Georgia."

In a press release, Dominion observed, "No credible facts has ever been offered to any court docket or authority that voting machines did the rest apart from count votes accurately and reliably in all states."

prior this month, Georgia state authorities issued a subpoena searching for files from espresso County, together with about Hampton, in response to records received by means of The submit. a unique prosecutor in Michigan is probing alleged breaches in three counties. State authorities charged three Mesa County officials with legal offenses, and a federal grand jury is investigating extra.

An early fixation on balloting machines

Unproven theories that the nation's elections are skewed by using widespread fraud have lengthy simmered. When John F. Kennedy narrowly prevailed over Richard M. Nixon within the 1960 presidential race, some on the right suspected that Richard J. Daley — the famously effective Democratic mayor of Chicago — had rigged the consequences to tip Illinois in Kennedy's favor. At a celebration Nixon gave before Christmas that yr, information bills say, he grumbled to visitors, "We received but they stole it from us."

4 decades later got here Florida's hanging-chad debacle and a subsequent push to replace paper ballots with paperless contact-display balloting machines. however these added new dangers: and not using a paper trail, checking even if the machines had precisely recorded voters' selections become now not possible.

In 2004, some on the left alleged that widespread fraud in Ohio — together with tampering with paperless voting machines — had helped Republican George W. Bush prevail over Democrat John F. Kerry. an out of doors neighborhood filed an unsuccessful election problem in courtroom.

Paperless voting machines all started giving approach in many places to paper ballots that can be scanned and counted through machine, a system largely viewed as more secure. even so, suspicion surged on the appropriate in 2016 after Trump, regardless of having gained the presidency, falsely claimed that thousands and thousands of americans balloting illegally had charge him the widespread vote.

a little-conventional security company led by using former GOP congressional candidate Russell J. Ramsland Jr. quickly grew to become fixated on electronic vote casting machines as vectors of fraud, The post has reported. In 2018, Ramsland began briefing GOP activists outside Dallas at an aircraft hangar used with the aid of his company, Allied security Operations group (ASOG). among those briefed was Powell, a attorney who had won admirers in Trump circles by means of defending Flynn against charges that he lied to the FBI.

Ramsland tried in vain to influence failed Republican candidates to challenge their election defeats and drive the free up of machine data that he spoke of might show manipulation. No candidate did — except Trump's loss in 2020.

Trump and his buddies concentrated their consideration on Dominion, the Denver-based business whose machines have been used throughout Georgia and in additional than 20 other states. among their claims was that ballots had been being diverted far from computerized counting to "adjudication," a manner meant to get to the bottom of minor error by voters. There, the thought went, human operators or algorithms might flip Trump votes to Joe Biden.

Trump-allied attorneys, including Powell, filed lawsuits in swing states looking for access to vote casting machines for what they referred to as "forensic audits." whereas lots of the matches were at once disregarded, a state decide allowed Dominion device to be searched for signs of fraud or irregularities in Antrim County, Mich. The Republican-managed Arizona Senate used its subpoena energy to permit backyard consultants to assess machines used in Maricopa County. (not one of the so-known as audits would turn up evidence of rigged vote casting.)

best in fresh weeks did The put up show new connections, in the course of the involvement of key gamers, between the searches in Antrim and Maricopa counties — as well as a a great deal extra restricted court docket-ordered examination of materials used to verify machines in Clark County, Nev. — and the later alleged breaches that came about without court docket authorization or legislative backing in three different Michigan counties and in espresso and Mesa counties.

Emails beginning in late November 2020 show that the examinations in Clark, Antrim and coffee had been carried out by means of the records forensics firm SullivanStrickler and organized partly by means of Jim Penrose, a cybersecurity advisor who had spent much of his career at the country wide protection agency, in line with his résumé.

among those copied on emails related to the court-ordered examinations were Trump crusade attorney Jesse Binnall and Phil Waldron, a retired military colonel. Waldron became working with ASOG and performing with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at hearings where they entreated state legislators to overturn the results.

Powell and Doug Logan, the executive government of a then-imprecise company known as Cyber Ninjas, have been also on emails concerning those and other examinations. The emails, disclosed via The publish in August, were the primary indication of Powell's involvement in the efforts to access machines in Antrim and occasional counties.

Two tech consultants, Jeffrey Lenberg and Doug Logan, arrived at espresso County election headquarters on January 17, 2021. (Video: The Washington submit)

Ramsland, Penrose, Waldron and a spokesman for Trump did not reply to inquiries. Binnall and Logan declined to comment.

SullivanStrickler validated to The publish that it grew to be involved in the elections work after being approached by using Penrose. The company has talked about it labored pursuant to contracts with attorneys and "had [and has] no purpose to accept as true with that, as officers of the courtroom, these attorneys would ask or direct SullivanStrickler to do anything else both unsuitable or illegal." The enterprise has referred to it's cooperating with investigators probing the espresso County episode.

Binnall signed an agreement on Dec. 2 to pay SullivanStrickler $19,500 for work in Clark County, but the campaign's push to check machines there changed into stymied. The company's consultants were finally allowed to seem only at records generated when the accuracy of the machines became tested earlier than the election, court docket facts display.

It changed into in Michigan that Trump's allies notched their first victory within the quest for desktop access. Republicans had pounced on a clerical blunder in rural Antrim County as proof of rigging. a native man sued. On Dec. four, a Michigan state choose — a Trump donor and former GOP leader in the legislature — issued an order granting the plaintiff permission to copy instruments together with the vital computer used to tally election effects.

Powell signed a deal to pay SullivanStrickler $26,000 to bring together the data, facts reveal.

Trump's allies quickly declared that the examination had unearthed a smoking gun. ASOG produced a report on Dec. 13, signed through Ramsland, that claimed the Antrim copies confirmed that Dominion programs had been "deliberately and purposefully designed" to generate ballot errors and then shunt these ballots into adjudication, where unscrupulous officers could alter the results. The judge allowed the report to be launched publicly the following day.

unbiased specialists disputed the file's valuable claims, and a hand count verified that the election outcome turned into correct. Antrim didn't have the adjudication utility that the report alleged become used to fix results there, according to a fatherland security evaluation.

William P. Barr, the lawyer customary at the time, informed residence investigators later that the file changed into "amateurish" and observed one would ought to be "detached from reality" to consider it. in response to Barr, Trump referred to as the report "absolute proof that the Dominion machines were rigged" and spoke of it meant he changed into "going to have a second term."

The Antrim information had been posted to a password-covered server, from which they have been downloaded by way of election deniers around the nation, records display. but these chasing access to vote casting machines wanted extra.

round this time, Brian Kennedy, a senior fellow on the conservative Claremont Institute, mentioned in podcast interviews that Trump and his allies needed greater compelling laptop evidence to cease Congress from certifying Biden's win on Jan. 6, 2021. He did not mention espresso County but spoke of in a Dec. 17 interview that "Georgia is having some investigation."

Kennedy tied their efforts to the wider bid to overturn the election by using Trump attorney John C. Eastman, a Claremont colleague and a friend for 30 years. "John's confident we are able to get this completed ahead of time. and that i suppose i'm, too," Kennedy referred to. "however we need to definitely step up our game right here if we're going to get this done in time."

Kennedy did not reply to a request for remark. Eastman was no longer aware about the activities in coffee County until he acquired questions from The put up, his lawyer spoke of.

Trump campaign harnesses coffee County claims

In 2017, a gaggle of voters and the nonprofit watchdog Coalition for respectable Governance filed the lawsuit in opposition t Georgia elections officials. It alleged that the paperless contact-reveal machines were vulnerable to hacking and argued that they should get replaced by hand-marked paper ballots. U.S. District courtroom judge Amy Totenberg discovered right here 12 months that state officers had "buried their head within the sand" based on security issues.

Georgia changed the aging paperless vote casting machines forward of the state's June 2020 presidential fundamental. Voters still make their selections by means of touching a monitor. however the new machines, made with the aid of Dominion, then print a paper ballot with a QR code this is scanned and counted. (The lawsuit has remained energetic, with the plaintiffs arguing that the brand new system is insecure — and, greater currently, that the possibility has been exacerbated via the alleged breach in espresso County and the circulation of utility used statewide. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who took workplace in 2019, has disagreed and endured defending the balloting gadget in court.)

Mail ballots are marked with the aid of hand. When this type of pollis no longer desktop-readable on account of stray marks or other errors, it is dealt with through adjudication. Georgia legislation requires a bipartisan panel to examine the ballot, agree on voter intent after which tell the desktop a way to count number it.

Hampton has informed The post she by chance discovered that, as an election supervisor getting into that assistance, she could trigger a mail ballot marked for one candidate to rely for another. "i used to be blown away that it could let me alternate an individual's vote," she observed early this yr.

using the desktop's adjudication function to flip votes can be unlawful. Had it took place in Georgia, it might have been detected during a statewide hand count that happened in mid-November 2020, in response to balloting specialists. in its place, that recount affirmed that the machines had tallied votes appropriately.

having said that, after Hampton voiced her issues at the Nov. 10 elections board assembly, she made a name to Robert Sinners, the Trump crusade's director of Election Day operations in Georgia. She entreated Sinners to request the assembly minutes, he later pointed out in a deposition. Sinners talked about he forwarded the minutes to crusade attorneys and "didn't basically suppose twice about it" as a result of he turned into focused on Georgia's most populous counties.

Sinners also spoke to Eric Chaney, the board member who had talked about he turned into sickened by using the machines, according to a in the past unreported e mail from Chaney that was study to Sinners throughout his deposition. in the e mail, Chaney underlined his considerations with Dominion's software: "this is THE AVENUE FOR FRAUD ON THE biggest SCALE possible."

Chaney and his attorney did not reply to a request for comment.

Sinners also did not respond. The Georgia secretary of state's workplace hired him in February 2021 as director of constituent services, and he's now the company's director of communications.

At a coffee County elections board assembly on Nov. 12, 2020, Hampton made a pair of videos purporting to display how she could flip votes or invent votes to remember on ballots that had been left thoroughly blank. "I feel I are looking to vote for Biden. Let's let Biden win this one," she noted at one point, clicking the desktop mouse to adjudicate a ballot.

The associated Press called Georgia for Biden one week later. Chaney, who had grown up in coffee County and ran a used-vehicle dealership owned by using his father, texted Hampton and requested her to send him files concerning the reliability of balloting machines that had been offered with the aid of the secretary of state's office. "Trump's man needs them," Chaney wrote in a in the past unreported change.

"decent!!!! I'll help them any approach i can," answered Hampton.

because the vote became shut, Georgia recounted once again just a few days later, this time by machine. once again, the recount tested Biden's victory. Yet espresso officials refused to certify their recount effects, telling Raffensperger in a Dec. 4 letter that the Dominion machines had failed, all the way through diverse makes an attempt, to "repeatably replica creditable election results."

State investigators later concluded that the difficulties county officials experienced have been as a result of the human error. but the board's dire claims, printed on official letterhead, had been becoming a key part of the frenzied push via Trump's crew to preserve him in workplace.

On Dec. eleven, the Trump crusade filed a copy of Hampton's video clips, along with the Dec. 4 letter refusing to certify the computer recount and other documents from espresso County, to a state courtroom for a crusade lawsuit in quest of to decertify Biden's win in Georgia. Trump surrogates pointed to the movies and the county's refusal to certify at hearings earlier than Georgia legislators right through a multistate roadshow led by Giuliani. When Waldron, the retired army colonel, played the clips, Giuliani may be heard off-camera. "this is in reality respectable stuff," he talked about, adding, "We should are attempting to get this on Newsmax, on OAN."

A attorney for Giuliani didn't respond to a message searching for remark.

The video clips had been referenced a few days later in the ASOG file on Antrim County and, documents demonstrate, in a "strategic communications plan" developed by means of a Giuliani-led group working from Washington's Willard hotel all through late December and early January.

coffee County's refusal to certify turned into additionally stated in one of the most extreme measures proposed by Trump allies after the election: a Dec. 16 draft govt order authorizing the defense branch to trap voting machines. At a now-notorious meeting on the White apartment two days later, Powell and Flynn tried to persuade Trump to seize machines and empower Powell to investigate. Trump on no account did.

On Jan. 5, 2021, Georgia held runoff elections for the state's two U.S. Senate seats. coffee County GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham changed into the Republican member on the bipartisan panel to video display adjudication circumstances. An award-profitable trainer at espresso excessive faculty, she had testified before state senators just a number of days previous, claiming whistleblower popularity as she described what she noted had been problems with the Dominion machines "from the git-go," minutes from the hearing demonstrate.

Latham claimed that all over the Senate runoff, the county's pollscanner many times jammed and back error messages, primarily on ballots marked for Republicans. A Dominion technician on the scene informed cleansing the laptop with a material and puffs of pressurized air, she observed in a written statement she became over to the plaintiffs within the long-operating lawsuit. That did not work, she wrote.

because the night wore on, Chaney demanded to speak with the technician's boss and threatened to call the media if the difficulty wasn't fastened in 30 minutes, in keeping with Latham's commentary. quickly after, Latham wrote, the technician recommended wiping the scanner an extra time. Then, as he held his cell phone whereas standing near the machine, it begun working, in response to Latham.

"Did all of us simply witness what I consider we witnessed?" Chaney observed, in accordance with Latham's account. She questioned aloud even if the Dominion technician had downloaded whatever thing to the scanner by means of his mobile, she recalled, including that Hampton agreed: This could be no mere coincidence.

Gabriel Sterling, Raffensperger's chief operations officer, instructed The submit there is not any way to entry the scanners wirelessly or by way of Bluetooth. A state investigation into coffee County's bothered computer recount of the presidential race decided that Hampton changed into not aware of appropriate cleaning approaches for the scanner.

on the other hand, suspicion that Dominion had managed to wirelessly access a balky scanner in coffee County supercharged considerations that a person could have rigged the election outcomes.

'Are you getting every thing?'

In Washington the next day, thousands of Trump supporters gathered on the country wide Mall as Congress prepared to certify Biden's victory. Trump exhorted them to march on the Capitol, and they did, laying siege to the constructing and using lawmakers into hiding. 5 individuals died within the assault or in its immediate aftermath.

in the meantime, seven hundred miles south, Trump's supporters in coffee County were making plans.

safety digital camera footage shows that Latham arrived at the elections office just earlier than 4 p.m. Hampton, who changed into at work internal, texted Chaney in regards to the proprietor of a bail bonds business who was smartly-linked within the state GOP and had been hunting for evidence that the election became rigged. "Scott corridor is on the cellphone with Cathy about desperate to come scan our ballots from the normal election like we talked in regards to the other day," Hampton wrote.

The subsequent morning, Latham told Hampton via textual content that hall and the SullivanStrickler group were on their way.

"Yay!!!!" Hampton responded.

corridor became flying in, and the SullivanStrickler crew became riding from the Atlanta area. From the passenger seat, Chief Operations Officer Paul Maggio sent Powell an email with their $26,000 invoice, adding that they deliberate to "compile what we can from the Election / voting machines and systems."

In a deposition for the lawsuit, Latham observed she was in the elections office that day simplest in brief and for unrelated causes. Her legal professionals have observed that her reminiscence of activities more than two years in the past is imperfect and that she testified honestly to the better of her recollection. Chaney has no longer commented publicly considering he instructed The put up prior this 12 months that he become no longer present at the office "when any person illegally accessed the server or the room through which it's contained." Hampton has mentioned letting corridor and others into the office however said she did not comprehend what they did there.

Surveillance video indicates that Chaney arrived at the workplace on Jan. 7 almost immediately before 11 a.m., and Latham arrived close to an hour later. She greeted the SullivanStrickler personnel and corridor and led them interior after they arrived soon after.

SullivanStrickler makes a speciality of making "forensic photographs" — exact copies — of statistics from a device. on the coffee elections workplace, data exhibit, the group imaged very nearly each piece of the county's voting equipment: the poll pads, a pollscanner, the server used to tally votes, and thumb drives and compact flash reminiscence cards.

a whole lot of that work came about in a local of the elections workplace no longer visible in surveillance video footage. however pictures of a foyer and outer office indicates Latham, Hampton and Chaney talking with corridor and the forensics specialists, some from time to time looking at election machine or bending to check a computer reveal.

The enterprise believed that it had been given proper authorization, its director of information possibility and remediation, Dean Felicetti, later noted in a deposition. Hampton and to a lesser extent Latham had directed the firm's personnel, Felicetti said.

"And Scott hall had observed, 'Get — are you sure you're getting every thing? Are you getting every thing?' so that became interpreted as, 'make sure you get every little thing for you to,'" stated Felicetti, who was no longer existing in the county workplaces however supplied the deposition on behalf of the enterprise.

corridor didn't respond to a request for comment. Latham's attorney declined to comment for this story but in the past instructed The put up that she didn't authorize or participate in the copying and "has not acted improperly or illegally."

Maggio updated Powell that afternoon, telling her that "every thing is going well here in espresso County." Surveillance video shows that hall left presently before 5 p.m. and Latham, who at one element left after which lower back, departed after 6, having apparently spent greater than 4 hours in total at the elections office that day. by means of 8 p.m., the SullivanStrickler team had departed as well.

That evening, Chaney texted Hampton a cellular telephone quantity for Sinners, the Trump crusade staffer. Later, requested about that in a sworn deposition, Chaney noted his Fifth change rights, some of the more than 200 instances he did so, based on a transcript of his testimony. Sinners said in his deposition that he did not talk with anyone concerning the copying and knew nothing of it. He referred to that "every activist in the state had my phone number."

the following day, Maggio advised Powell that SullivanStrickler would put up the information they had copied to the password-covered web site for downloading. "each person worried was extremely helpful," he wrote.

less than two weeks later, two other outsiders visited the elections office, surveillance video indicates.

At 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 18, Hampton arrived with Doug Logan, the Cyber Ninjas chief government, and Jeffrey Lenberg, a retired federal employee who held protection clearances and labored to expose vulnerabilities in software and hardware, in keeping with a biography filed in courtroom. The pair spent very nearly four hours in the office that afternoon, photos indicates.

They returned the next morning and stayed for one more nine hours, during which Hampton texted Chaney: "if you turn up to be on the town, the blokes measuring my desk are nevertheless here."

Lenberg additionally returned alone on Jan. 25 and on each of the next 4 days, the footage shows. Lenberg didn't respond to a request for remark.

In a podcast interview, Lenberg referred to he and Logan visited coffee County after discovering of the alleged runoff-evening irregularity. looking for to duplicate the error, they directed Hampton and "didn't touch" the equipment themselves, he said. He noted they discovered that one class of scanner turned into "reversing ballots" and an additional class had adjustable settings that "shouldn't were there." They said again to buddies within the capital whom he didn't identify.

"both Doug and i wrote short little reviews about what we discovered, which were exceeded back to the neighborhood in Washington," Lenberg said.

the following month, after well-nigh a decade as a county elections respectable, Hampton became ousted.

In a in the past unreported neighborhood text on Feb. 24, a espresso County election board member warned Hampton to consult the county attorney before accepting an invite to talk to a native Rotary membership. "we've yet another new lawsuit and the probability of an additional after that," the board member wrote late that nighttime.

Chaney brought: "With all that's occurring I believe you need to lay low."

textual content messages exhibit Hampton discovered that a special elections board meeting had been set for right here day. The agenda known as for dialogue of litigation towards the county in addition to personnel concerns, together with feasible disciplinary motion.

On the day of that assembly, Feb. 25, Hampton signed a letter saying she changed into resigning in lieu of termination and would no longer contest allegations that she had falsified time sheets.

Hampton advised The publish earlier this yr that she had been pressured to signal the letter. She referred to she had followed the board's assistance in handling her time sheets and believed she was pushed out because of her public criticism of Dominion machines.

The evening of Hampton's resignation, a plane owned through MyPillow, whose founder, Mike Lindell, become also working to prove Trump's fraud claims, landed at coffee County's tiny Douglas airport. The jet had taken off that morning from Palm seaside, Fla., the place Lindell is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago membership. It stayed in Douglas lower than two hours before flying on to Texas, flight statistics exhibit.

Lindell observed that he didn't be aware of Hampton and that the seek advice from to coffee had nothing to do with elections. Entrepreneurs have been pitching new "cooling towels" to MyPillow, he pointed out, and he stopped to pick up some prototypes.

Lindell sent The publish pictures of yellow cooling towels in packaging emblazoned with MyPillow's brand. He declined to establish the entrepreneurs, asserting they did not wish to be publicly associated with him for worry of being attacked.

A sustained attack

within the months after the espresso episode, election deniers went on to reproduction or entry machine — allegedly with out suitable authorization — in Mesa County, Colo., and in the Michigan counties that are actually the subject of a crook investigation. They did the identical, with permission from Arizona lawmakers, in Maricopa County.

GOP politicians and activists have used that advice to argue that every one ballots should remember via hand. Election deniers, occasionally citing the copied information, have filed least 31 lawsuits asking judges in 15 states and D.C. to restrict using digital voting machines, a publish overview discovered. experts say one of these move would inject elections with new uncertainty, delays and chaos.

The allegation that outsiders copied coffee County records changed into raised in February during a deposition of Sterling, the secretary of state's chief operations officer. For months, Georgia officers have been skeptical that it had took place, even after Mesa County clerk Tina Peters and her deputy have been indicted in March on charges of scheming to help election deniers replica hard drives.

regarding the claims about espresso County at a public right here month, Sterling rolled his eyes.

"There's no evidence of any of that," he observed. "It didn't take place."

Sterling advised The submit that he did not at the start trust the claim a couple of protection breach in espresso County because it "had the hallmarks of misinformation." He has given that stated he become improper. Raffensperger's workplace has changed the equipment in espresso County, asserting the controversy surrounding it had develop into a distraction.

evidence of the copying in espresso County was unearthed and made public by means of the lawsuit plaintiffs. They gathered emails, business facts and surveillance footage that confirmed the copying had passed off and linked it to the wider pro-Trump effort. "The simplest strategy to at ease a system is people need to understand that in the event that they breach that device, they are going to be held responsible," David cross, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, stated final month in court. "And these americans nearly got away with it."

Election deniers, meanwhile, have forged Hampton as a hero. "She's fully doing her job if she's attempting to work out what's wrong together with her election equipment, what may be incorrect with it," spoke of Lenberg, who visited coffee County's elections office in January 2021. "That's her job."

Jacqueline Alemany, Aaron C. Davis and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this document.

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