The news comes at a time when Republicans across the country are claiming – almost always without evidence – that America’s electoral system is fraudulent. Many such figures are also seeking to win election to offices to roles that oversee voting. Routine network traffic that was captured during the Ohio breach was circulated at an event organized by Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow. Over the last year, Lindell has actively promoted the baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump.
The FBI is looking into an attempted hack of a municipal electoral network in Ohio that took place last spring. According to the Washington Post, on 4 May – the day of Ohio’s spring primary election – a private laptop was linked into the election network in the office of John Hamercheck, the chairman of the Lake county board of commissioners. Officials from the state and county claim that no personal information or sensitive data was stolen as a result of the hack.
A similar breach took place in Mesa county, Colorado, in late May. Local election officials have since been accused of allowing outsiders into the county election offices to copy the hard drives of election equipment. Earlier this week, the FBI raided the home of Tina Peters, the county clerk, after she was accused of facilitating the breach Officials in the Ohio secretary of state’s office say they believe a government employee likely assisted with the breach.
Lindell is a close ally and friend of Trump, even interviewing him recently in a video where the two men promoted the false idea that Biden’s election win was somehow part of a fraud. At the Ohio event in August, copies of the software from voting equipment in Colorado and Michigan were distributed to attendees, alerting officials of the breaches. The breach in Ohio is a part of a series of attacks on voting systems that have taken place across the country as vigilante hackers embrace the conspiracy theory despite there being no evidence of election fraud during the 2020 election.
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“It’s concerning that somebody would – especially somebody in a government office, somebody who is an elected official, or somebody who’s part of county government – would … try to engage in some sort of vigilante investigation,” Frank LaRose, Ohio secretary of state, told the Washington Post. According to the Post, county officials in both Ohio and Colorado discussed election fraud claims with Douglass Frank, a close associate of Lindell who has propagated claims of election fraud, before the breaches occurred.
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