May 13, 2022

Georgia’s Alleged Dominion Voting System Breach 
Coalition for Good Governance’s Statement

Today the Washington Post published an investigative journalism article providing some details of alleged serious breach of Georgia’s statewide voting system that apparently occurred over a year ago. Secretary of State Raffensperger and the State Election Board have taken no known steps to mitigate this alleged breach despite the pending high profile 2022 primaries and mid-term election and specific requests to do so. 

This alleged breach came to light when Marilyn Marks, Executive Director for the Coalition for Good Governance’s (“CGG”) received a phone call in 2021 from Scott Hall, a Fulton County voter who had been active in challenging the 2020 election. Hall claimed that he had engaged a hacker to access CGG’s litigation files in the Curling v Raffensperger election security litigation. At this point, Marks began recording the conversation, which ultimately included Hall’s claim that he participated in copying Coffee County’s voting system software and 2020 election data. A Coffee County voter and Republican party leader later told Marks that she also witnessed the system breach. 

CGG and other plaintiffs in the Curling lawsuit have sought discovery on the Coffee County issue, but the Secretary of State’s office has not produced relevant documents or testimony that should answer many pending questions surrounding the events in Coffee County.  Plaintiffs are awaiting the Court’s ruling on their discovery request. 

CGG is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged election security breach in Coffee County and for Georgia officials to immediately mitigate the risk of election interference by limiting the use of electronic ballot marking devices. In mid-April, a multi-partisan group of approximately 50 candidates on the 2022 ballot petitioned the State Election Board to require hand marked emergency balloting, citing in part the alleged Coffee County breach. To date, the Board and Secretary Raffensperger have ignored the requests of the candidates from the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian Parties to take this essential mitigation step in the face of increased security risk to the pending election.

Relevant Background

Secretary Raffensperger has taken the position that the serious vulnerabilities in the Dominion touchscreen voting system documented by Dr. Alex Halderman, the nation’s renown voting system cybersecurity expert, are not “real world” risks. Secretary Raffensperger claims that while anyone could “change things” in an election if they had access to the system and software for extended periods of time, such extended access is “not real world. The unauthorized access that allegedly occurred in Coffee County over a year ago, certainly provided that extended time for bad actors to exploit the voting system.

The details of the Secretary of State’s and the State Election Board’s investigation of this serious alleged breach, the most serious we are aware of in the nation’s history, are murky at best. Legal counsel for the State Election Board and Secretary Raffensperger represented to the Court that their clients first became aware of the allegation in the February 24, 2022 deposition of Gabriel Sterling, a witness testifying on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office, and immediately opened an investigation into the matter after hearing the recorded call. As of yesterday, the attorney representing Coffee County stated that they are unaware of any such investigation. 

Coalition for Good Governance has sought answers from the Secretary of State’s office in depositions, including the February 24, 2022 deposition of Gabriel Sterling. Although Mr. Sterling stated that the department investigated the alleged breach, he testified that he could not recall the findings or results of the investigation. Mr. Sterling  modified this statement at a recent event at the Carter Center,[1] where he claimed the Secretary’s offices investigated the claims and found no evidence of a breach. 

Coffee County election questions came to national attention in the 2020 election controversy when Coffee County discrepancies were mentioned in former President Trump’s draft executive orders calling for seizing all the nation’s voting machines.  Whether the draft executive orders’ mention of Coffee County is related to the alleged imaging of the equipment and breach of the system is unknown at this time. 

Dr. Philip Stark, a testifying expert in the Curling case and the nation’s most highly respected election auditing expert wrote, “This failure of physical security, cybersecurity, and judgment in Georgia elections is appalling, but not surprising—and probably far from unique. Misty Hampton clearly did not understand the basics of security: limit access to vulnerable hardware (and the software installed on it) by locking doors and not allowing unauthorized people to touch it; don’t put a password on a sticky notes on the device the password protects (and then publish a video with the password); etc. 

The events in Coffee County reinforce the fact that there are insider threats to elections, including insiders who will (wittingly or not) aid and abet people who seek to undermine election integrity. Public scrutiny of elections is essential to election integrity. But granting unsupervised access to a deployed voting system and its installed software—especially in a state like Georgia that relies entirely on electronics to record and tabulate votes and has few physical controls on the ballots, memory cards, and other voting equipment and materials—is license for mischief.

Elections need to be run transparently and securely. That can only be accomplished through a voting system based primarily on hand-marked paper ballots kept demonstrably secure throughout the canvass, compliance and eligibility audits to ensure that the paper trail is trustworthy, and manual risk-limiting audits of the results against that trustworthy paper trail in every election”

The Washington Post story began to shine a light on very difficult to obtain information about a gravely serious alleged breach of the statewide voting system software. CGG is gathering additional information daily, and will update this statement in the near future.

Coalition for Good Governance is a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to the issues of election security, voter privacy, and government transparency, particularly in the arena of public elections. 

[1] Available at: at minute 35:30

Contact information:
Marilyn Marks
Executive Director
704 292 9802

# # #

Follow us on Twitter @CoalitionGoodGv
Coalition for Good Governance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on election security, integrity, and transparency.