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Georgia state elections board seeks FBI help in criminal investigation of voting system breach after 2020 election

<i>Megan Varner/Getty Images</i><br/>Stickers for Georgia voters are seen in this January 5
Getty Images
Megan Varner/Getty Images
Stickers for Georgia voters are seen in this January 5

By Zachary Cohen, CNN

The Georgia State Elections Board revealed Wednesday that the board has asked the FBI to participate in an ongoing criminal investigation into the voting system breach in Coffee County because of similarities between what happened there and incidents in other states.

“The conduct in Coffee County is similar to conduct in Antrim County, Michigan, and Clark County, Nevada,” elections board Chairman William Duffey Jr. said, citing two other places where pro-Trump operatives gained access to voting systems with the help of sympathetic local elections officials after the 2020 election.

The Georgia elections board also revealed it is investigating communications between local election officials in a second Georgia county and SullivanStrickler — the same cybersecurity firm hired by attorneys working for former President Donald Trump to access voting systems in Coffee County in January 2021.

The board has received documents that include an “unexecuted engagement agreement” for SullivanStrickler to forensically image voting systems in Spalding County, Georgia, Duffey said.

The move represents an escalation by state investigators in Georgia, raising new questions about whether the same group of individuals involved in the Coffee County breach sought access to voting systems in other parts of the state as well.

Duffey said it remains unclear why Spalding County was interested in having SullivanStrickler conduct this kind of work but that the board is investigating whether there is any link to what happened in Coffee County. It is also unclear if voting systems in Spalding County were breached.

Duffey noted that he has asked for an update from the FBI regarding the status of its participation in the state-level Georgia probe related to Coffee County but does not yet know what the bureau is doing, if anything, at this time.

CNN has reached out to the Justice Department and FBI about the request.

CNN previously reported that a Republican county official in Georgia and operatives working with an attorney for Trump spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office the day it is known to have been breached.

SullivanStrickler, which court documents show was hired by former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, previously said in a statement to CNN that it was “directed by attorneys to contact county election officials to obtain access to certain data” in Georgia and also “directed by attorneys to distribute that data to certain individuals.”

SullivanStrickler says it did not image any Spalding County equipment.

“We did not image any equipment in Spalding County,” said Amanda Clark Palmer, an attorney representing SullivanStrickler, on Wednesday. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation as we have done up until now.”

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