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Sur le web : ‘Bring them to justice’: Georgia town residents demand answers in Trump election plot | Georgia


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On Saturday afternoon, roughly 70 people gathered on folding chairs in a sweltering church meeting room in the small town of Douglas, about 200 miles (322km) south-east of Atlanta, Georgia. Less than a week earlier, Donald Trump and 18 of his allies were indicted in Fulton county for efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including allegedly entering the Coffee county elections office less than a mile away and copying the state’s voter software and other data.

County residents at the town hall raised concerns about the lack of accountability for those who played a role in copying software and other data, and said they felt insecure about the safety and integrity of future elections.

“People think, ‘He’s been indicted in Atlanta, so it’s over,’” 80-year-old county resident Jim Hudson said to the room, referring to Trump. “[But] how do we regroup? How do we become a county not referred to as ‘Crooked Coffee’?”

The Rev Bruce Francis read a message from Bishop Reginald T Jackson, who oversees 500 Black churches in Georgia, referring to “troubling improprieties” that had brought this town of about 12,000 residents to the world’s attention.

“The nation is now aware of the travesty that happened in 2020,” he read. “What do we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?”

The “travesty” was what Marilyn Marks, the town hall’s main speaker, called “the largest voting system breach in US history”. It happened in January 2021, when multiple people working on behalf of Donald Trump allegedly entered the Coffee county elections office and copied software and other digital information from the agency’s computers, gaining access to the entire elections system of the state of Georgia, home to about 7.9 million registered voters.

The digital information obtained is now in an unknown number of hands, meaning that future elections could be affected in Georgia and in other states that use Dominion Voting Systems and other equipment made by partner companies. The breach has been publicly reported for more than a year, but was launched into a global spotlight on 14 August, when the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, issued indictments to Trump and 18 others. Several people were indicted for their direct role in the Coffee county breach, and nearly half the group had some kind of involvement in the incident, according to Marks.

It wasn’t federal, state or local investigators who turned up evidence of the incidents, but Marks’ nonprofit organization, the Coalition for Good Governance. The group obtained video, text messages and other information about what happened in Douglas as part of a lawsuit against Georgia, now in its sixth year, that seeks to force the state to switch from computers to hand-marked paper ballots in elections, due to vulnerabilities in digital voting systems. Seventy per cent of US voters mark ballots by hand.

And aerial picture of an office building next to a road with the sun at the horizon.
The Coffee county elections and registration office in Douglas, Georgia. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The town hall was the first occasion for residents of Douglas to hear a detailed explanation of how events that took place in their own back yard had become headlines, what those events mean for future elections and, perhaps most important, who among their neighbors had not been held accountable, what can be done to change that and how to prevent such a breach from happening again.

Local residents wanted to know whether their personal information was “floating around in cyberspace”, if poll workers in Coffee county would be safe in future elections, and whether “money was exchanged for favors” during any of the visits to the local elections office by Trump’s associates.

Hanging over the room were not just the challenges members of small communities face when their own neighbors are implicated in serious wrongdoing, but, also, the issue of race.

Coffee county is about 68% white, but most of the attendees at the town hall were Black. One white woman said she had urged other white locals to attend, but was met with indifference.

Many were also aware that one of the more prominent locals present – city commissioner of 24 years and voting rights activist Olivia Coley-Pearson – was persecuted for years by the state for helping disabled and illiterate voters, while state election officials have shown little interest in investigating the breach, according to Marks. Coley-Pearson is Black; Trump’s associates involved in the breach here have all been white.

Screen shot from a Coffee county, Georgia, security camera at the Coffee county elections office showing a county Republican official, Cathy Latham, in a long light blue shirt, with a team of computer specialists that created copies of voting equipment data in January 2021.
Screen shot from a Coffee county, Georgia, security camera at the Coffee county elections office showing a county Republican official, Cathy Latham, in a long light blue shirt, with a team of computer specialists that created copies of voting equipment data in January 2021. Photograph: Alamy

Before Marks began her talk, titled, “What the hack happened in Coffee Co?”, Hudson, a retired lawyer, addressed the room. A thin, soft-spoken man, Hudson told those gathered how, as a seventh-generation Georgian and county resident, he felt had “skin in the game” when it came to the breach. “That’s why, when I discovered what happened, I was so disappointed,” he said.

He lamented there had been “no independent investigation by our officials … [and] almost no local press coverage.”

Hudson suggested there needs to be an independent, local investigation, and a plan for the future – “So this never occurs again in our county,” he said. The first reform, he said, should be that “the elections department office should never be used for a partisan meeting again”. The crowd applauded.

Marks took the stage. “Coffee county is the central foundation for this incredible indictment that the world is watching,” she said. The nonprofit director recounted how Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall called her on 7 March 2021 and told her that he and others had been to Douglas and “scanned all the equipment … imaged all the hard drives, scanned every ballot … all the poll pads – everything”.

On Tuesday morning, Hall became the first defendant named in last week’s indictments to surrender to authorities in Fulton county. He was shortly thereafter released on $10,000 bond.

Marks went on to detail how local elections director Misty Hampton – also indicted last week – communicated with people in Trump’s orbit, including Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who has repeatedly backed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Later, Hampton’s replacement found the business card of Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the group that performed a discredited audit of Arizona’s votes, in the county elections office, according to information Marks uncovered. Lindell and Logan remain unindicted.

She pointed the room to “unanswered questions”: what happened to Hampton’s emails and laptop, which state investigators say they haven’t been able to obtain, and when did local election board members and the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, learn of the breach? Also, why did local elections board member Eric Chaney, seen on video obtained by Marks welcoming Scott Hall and others into the elections office, remain on the board until September of last year? Chaney is also unnamed in Willis’s indictments.

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“You can’t wait on the state,” Marks told the room. “It’s up to local people to demand accountability.”

People line up outside next to a ‘Vote Here’ sign.
Residents wait in line to vote early outside a polling station on 29 November 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Cliff Albright, co-founder of the national group Black Voters Matter, took the stage and told the audience that he knew what it was like to be dealing with political controversy in a small town in the south, “where everybody knows what car you drive, and whether you’ve been at a meeting”.

Albright also reminded the audience what was at stake, pointing to Coley-Pearson, who faced multiple felony charges for allegedly breaking election laws. Coley-Pearson was never found guilty, but has suffered greatly from years of legal battles, she told the Guardian.

“They put all this money and time into investigating one woman?” Albright asked the room, again bringing applause. “And then you’re talking about the largest breach in US history? My message to the secretary of state and the county … is ‘Act like you care about it!’”

Then Coley-Pearson addressed her neighbors. “This is so important,” she said. “This is a threat to our democracy.” She noted that she had invited local elected officials from the county commission, the city commission and the board of elections – and only two came.

Referring to the breach, she said: “They felt like they could come to Coffee county because ain’t nobody gonna get involved except for Olivia and her few folks … [but] we’ve worked too hard … to let them take our rights away!”

Afterward, 70-year-old Alphermease Moore, who is Black and a Coffee county resident, noted that she was part of the local high school’s first integrated graduating class, in 1971.

“I was in Coffee high school’s first integrated group and was hoping, 50 years later, that things would be different. But the same things happening then are happening now,” she said, referring to Coley-Pearson’s prosecution on the one hand, and the lack of accountability for local white officials on the other. “It’s a constant climb.”

Standing outside the church, Hudson was emotional. He had learned about the breach months ago, after reading about it in the national press. “I was stunned. I could not believe it.”

Hudson, a well-known, longtime white resident of Coffee county, has been writing the county commission and board of elections, seeking an independent investigation. He attended an elections board meeting this spring and remarked, “If this was Olivia Coley-Pearson [who breached the elections system], she’d be in jail already.”

Douglas resident Larry Nesmith has been active in local Democratic party politics for 14 years. He said he would have been at the board of elections office on 7 January 2021, when the first visit by Trump’s associates occurred, but Hampton “told me not to come”.

Months later, he said, “I found out what happened on TV. I was shocked to find out. I feel our board of elections tried to cover [it] up. There’s no way they didn’t know.”

“Those responsible need to be held accountable,” he added. “These are people I know. Those who haven’t been indicted need to be. Bring them to justice. Don’t let them walk away!”

Bibliographie :

Droit international public/Les spécificités de l’ordre juridique international,Le livre .

La Justice et le Droit (Leconte de Lisle),Le livre .

Photographie/Personnalités/A/Ernest Charles Eugène Appert,Clicker Ici .

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