Georgia to replace voting machines in a county after 'unauthorized access'

Georgia Primary Election Day voting

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office was replacing some election equipment in a south Georgia county where former officials allegedly allowed unauthorized access to allies of former President Donald Trump in the weeks after the 2020 election.

The step comes after video surveillance footage made public recently showed outsiders accessing Coffee County voting machines and copying sensitive software and data.

The Washington Post has reported that forensics experts working last year for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell copied virtually every component of the voting system. Powell alleged voter fraud after the 2020 election, but federal and local investigations showed otherwise.

"To allay the fears being stoked by perennial election deniers and conspiracy theorists, we're replacing Coffee County's election machines," Raffensperger said in a statement on Friday, adding that the probe into the former officials who allowed the unauthorized access would continue.

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"But the current election officials in Coffee County have to move forward with the 2022 election, and they should be able to do so without this distraction," he said.

Separately in Georgia, a grand jury in the Fulton County is probing efforts by Trump to overturn the former president's 2020 election defeat.

Trump has falsely claimed that rampant voter fraud caused his loss in Georgia, a battleground state where President Joe Biden's victory helped propel him to the White House.

The special grand jury in Fulton County is undertaking a criminal investigation into alleged wrongdoing. Trump was recorded in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call pressuring Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the state.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. The grand jury had also subpoenaed Trump allies and members of his former legal team.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)