With two days until polls open, Brian Kemp, the Georgia secretary of State and Republican nominee for governor, is once again using his power as the state’s chief election officer to boost his chances on November 6th. He unveiled his latest gambit Sunday, when he announced an investigation of the Democratic Party of Georgia for a “failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system.” He provided no evidence.
That didn’t stop Kemp’s office from posting a notice on Georgia’s Secretary of State website, which voters visit to check their registration status or find their polling place. The all-caps headline says: “AFTER FAILED HACKING ATTEMPT, SOS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY.”
Democrats denied Kemp’s claim and ripped the investigation as a “political stunt” from a “desperate” candidate. Rebecca DeHart, executive director of Georgia’s Democratic Party, said, “To be very clear, Brian Kemp’s scurrilous claims are 100 percent false … This political stunt from Kemp just days before the election is yet another example of why he cannot be trusted and should not be overseeing an election in which he is also a candidate for governor.”
Kemp’s dual roles as secretary of State and candidate, a massive conflict of interest, have allowed him to engage “in acts of voter suppression aimed to decrease the turnout for” Abrams, Richard L. Hasen writes at Slate.
It’s just the latest in a series of partisan moves by Kemp, who has held up more than 50,000 voter registrations for inconsistencies as small as a missing hyphen, fought rules to give voters a chance to prove their identities when their absentee ballot applications are rejected for a lack of a signature match, and been aggressive in prosecuting those who have done nothing more than try to help those in need of assistance in casting ballots.
Sunday’s accusation of election hacking came with precious few details, but a spokesperson for Kemp’s office did tell the Times that the investigation was sparked by an email “talking about trying to hack the Secretary of State’s system.” Democrats released the emails in question, and said it proves Kemp’s claim is bogus.
The initial email in the exchange is from a man who was outlining vulnerabilities in the Secretary of State’s website. He sent the email to a Democratic Party volunteer, who forwarded it to the party’s voter protection director. That official then forwarded the details of the “massive vulnerability” to two cyber security experts, according to the website WhoWhatWhy, which obtained the emails.
So, rather than hack it, Democrats were worried about protecting a voter data base that Kemp has previously failed to keep secure.