New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: ‘BradCast’ 5/7/2024 – Daily Kos

6 minutes, 1 second Read
  • Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks
  • Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY
  • GA’s Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden…

On today’s BradCast: A new cybersecurity incident has emerged in Coffee County, Georgia. That’s the now-notorious rural enclave in the southeastern part of the Presidential battleground state where Donald Trump allies and operatives, in January of 2021, unlawfully breached, copied and distributed the state’s proprietary touchscreen voting system software after the 2020 Presidential election. Five participants in that breach were charged with felonies as part of the broad racketeering conspiracy case against Trump filed in Fulton County, GA. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get there today, however, some quick news on Trump’s New York criminal trial, where he stands accused of 34 felonies related to hush-money payments made just before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels. She took the stand today. We cover a few quick details, but will cover that and other related news in more depth on tomorrow’s mid-week Trump Trial “Ketchup” program.

Also today, we’re happy to announce another very rarely-bestowed BRAD BLOG Intellectually Honest Conservative Award. This one for Georgia‘s Republican former Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. The prestigious honor comes in response to his courageous op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this week, in which he endorsed Joe Biden and encouraged fellow Never Trump Republicans to do the same, noting, “Unlike Trump, I’ve belonged to the GOP my entire life. This November, I am voting for a decent person I disagree with on policy over a criminal defendant without a moral compass.”

Then, it’s back to Georgia, where the Coffee County Board of Commissioners released a notice [PDF] late last month that they’d been notified by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), 11 days earlier, about “unusual cyberactivity” on the County’s local IT system. The terse statement from the County confirmed indications of “cyber-activity by an unknown malicious actor(s)”. It claimed that “Steps have been taken to further secure the network and protect Coffee County’s IT infrastructure”, while noting that it had “informed Federal Authorities of the incident”.  (Yes, that would seemingly be the same incident that the very same press release says Federal Authorities, DHS and CISA, notified THEM about.)

We’re joined today by longtime Election Integrity and Transparency champion MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG). Marks was the one who first learned about Team Trump’s unlawful breach of GA’s statewide voting system hardware and software in Coffee County that first took place on January 7, 2021 (the day after Trump’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.) Her revelations resulted in the charges filed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis against Trump attorney Sidney Powell (who pleaded guilty) and others involved in the Coffee County break in.

As Director of CGG, Marks is also the plaintiff in civil lawsuit in federal court, filed in 2017, seeking to ban GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger‘s mandated use of the state’s easily-hacked, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots. The trial in that long-running case, known as Curling v. Raffensperger, was finally held in January of this year. As Marks explains today, plaintiffs are still waiting on a verdict from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg who oversaw the trial, which included demonstrations from plaintiffs’ experts revealing that Raffensperger’s systems can be hacked by any voter at the polling place with nothing more than a ballpoint pen.

Today, Marks charges that Coffee County appears to have “hid and concealed” information about the new cybersecurity incident from the Sec. of State’s office “for some number of days.” Though little is still known publicly about the new hack, she is troubled by the news. “This cannot just be coincidence that there have been two such cyberattacks this year on counties, one in Fulton and one in Coffee. That’s it. The two counties that have a lot of information challenging Trump and his allies related to [the earlier breach in Coffee] and the theft of the [voting] software to begin with.”

We also get an update from Marks on the status of the Curling case, where it is getting very late in the election year for the judge to issue a ruling that would require Georgia to make hand-marked paper ballots available to voters at the polls this November. Marks, however, remains ever hopeful, noting that the move to hand-marked ballots would require no new equipment above and beyond what is already available at each GA precinct.

Marks also discusses a new Georgia law (signed by Gov. Brian Kemp this evening) that will eventually ban the use of tabulation via QRCodes on computer-marked ballots, requiring computer scanners to tabulate from the ballots’ human-readable text that is supposedly verified by voters after it is printed and before its cast. Unfortunately, as she explains, that bill, even if implemented in 2026 as mandated by the legislation, will not make the state’s touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices any less vulnerable to manipulation or any more verifiable by the public after an election.

Marks, whose organization found no evidence that Biden’s 2020 victory in the Peach State was decided incorrectly, is also offering testimony this week to the GA State Board of Elections, advocating that recounts in the state must be carried out by hand, rather than by the same computerized scanners that tallied ballots in the first place.

“The state law is quite clear, a recount is to be done by hand, for obvious reasons such as the machine [used to tally ballots] is coded wrong,” she explains. Otherwise, she adds, you’re going to get the same incorrect results “if you just run the ballot back through the machine that is miscoded.”

The reason that Trump supporters are still arguing over the 2020 tally in the state, she believes, is thanks to the lack of a public hand-count after that very close election. Raffensperger insisted on a machine tally instead. “All of that could have been solved if they had done a manual recount, as the law required. Which would have allowed Trump to appoint a counter at every table, handle every single ballot. And they would have had a hard time arguing then about counterfeit ballots, wrong counts, no transparency,” Marks tells me. “A lot of the problems that we’ve lived with now over three years would have been solved if they had just followed the law and done a manual recount.”

Finally today, we close with our latest Green News Report, with Desi Doyen’s coverage of relentless rain and deadly flooding in both Brazil and Houston; the hottest April ever recorded on Planet Earth; and President Biden‘s unveiling of billions of dollars to spur clean energy production in rural areas and the removal and replacement of toxic lead water pipes across the nation…


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[Cross-posted from The BRAD BLOG…]

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