Copying of Georgia election data brings conspiracy charges

Coffee County incident included Sidney Powell and a fake elector
Surveillance video of the Coffee County elections office shows Cathy Latham, a Republican Party fake elector, speaking to computer analysts as they copied election data on Jan. 7, 2021. From left: computer analysts Paul Maggio, Jennifer Jackson and Jim Nelson of the data firm SullivanStrickler; Latham; Ed Voyles, a former Coffee County elections board member; Misty Hampton, the county's elections director; and Eric Chaney, a Coffee County elections board member. Source: Coffee County

Credit: Coffee County video

Credit: Coffee County video

Surveillance video of the Coffee County elections office shows Cathy Latham, a Republican Party fake elector, speaking to computer analysts as they copied election data on Jan. 7, 2021. From left: computer analysts Paul Maggio, Jennifer Jackson and Jim Nelson of the data firm SullivanStrickler; Latham; Ed Voyles, a former Coffee County elections board member; Misty Hampton, the county's elections director; and Eric Chaney, a Coffee County elections board member. Source: Coffee County

The alleged conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 presidential election stretched from Donald Trump’s lawyers in Washington to his sympathizers in South Georgia’s Coffee County, resulting in charges against four of those involving the tampering of voting software and ballots.

The Fulton County indictment targets former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, Republican Party fake elector Cathy Latham, bail bondsman Scott Hall and Coffee County elections supervisor Misty Hampton.

Each is accused of seven crimes involving the copying of confidential election files and their distribution to conspiracy theorists. The charges include racketeering, conspiracy to commit election fraud, computer theft, computer trespass and invasion of privacy.

The Coffee County incident is a key part of the 98-page indictment against Trump and 18 other defendants, along with allegations that they tried to change the outcome of the election in Georgia by pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, creating a slate of fake Republican presidential electors and harassing election workers.

“The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results,” Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis said.

Before the copying of election data in Georgia, Powell instructed computer analysts from the Atlanta-based tech firm SullivanStrickler on Dec. 21, 2021, to send files obtained from Michigan to her and three unindicted co-conspirators, according to the indictment. SullivanStrickler billed Powell over $26,000 for the job.

Two weeks later, Hall called Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was also indicted in the Trump case, and they talked for 63 minutes about the presidential election “in furtherance of the conspiracy,” the indictment says.

Then the team arrived in Coffee County on Jan. 7, 2021, and “stole data, including ballot images, voting equipment software and personal voter information,” the indictment alleges. The breach occurred the day after riots at the U.S. Capitol as Congress counted electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden, who won the election.

Latham escorted the SullivanStrickler computer analysts into the Coffee County elections office, security video shows. Latham, Hall and Hampton were present that day in the county’s elections office. Hampton resigned a month later but was hired soon afterward to manage a special election in Treutlen County.

Credit: Coffee County security video

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Credit: Coffee County security video

Once in the Coffee County elections office, the analysts copied Georgia’s statewide voting system software, which is supposed to be kept secure by election officials to protect against altering data, developing malware or disclosing personal voter registration information.

In addition to copying election data, the defendants and their co-conspirators also took official ballots outside of the polling place, according to the indictment. Georgia law requires ballots to remain in the custody of election officials and superior court clerks at all times.

Proof that Trump’s allies collaborated to copy election data in Coffee County was first disclosed in a lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance, which is suing Georgia over election security and wants the state to switch from the current electronic voting system to voting by paper ballots filled out by hand.

The GBI opened an investigation into the incident a year ago, but neither the Georgia agency nor the FBI has pursued charges so far.

The Fulton indictment is the first time the Coffee County incident has resulted in criminal counts — felony allegations that if proven in court could result in prison sentences.

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