Ga. Sec. of State’s Office launching investigation after alleged failed hacking attempt of voter registration system
ATLANTA — Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office says it has launched an investigation into a “failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system” on Saturday evening.
The office of Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate for governor, said in a Sunday morning news release that they will investigate the Georgia Democratic Party as part of its probe, but did not offer any details on why it is investigating the Democratic party.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cyber crimes,” said press secretary Candice Broce in the release. “We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure.”
The move comes just two days before Election Day, when voters will choose between Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams in the state’s high-profile race for governor. Democrats and advocacy groups have previously argued that Kemp has a conflict of interest in overseeing an election he is also running in, and some have called on him to resign.
The Georgia Democratic Party said in a statement Sunday that the “scurrilous claims are 100 percent false” and called the investigation “another example of abuse of power” by Kemp.
“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,” the state party’s executive director, Rebecca DeHart, said in a statement.
Abrams, the state’s former House minority leader, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the investigation was an attempt to distract voters two days before the election.
“I’ve heard nothing about it, and my reaction would be that this is a desperate attempt on the part of my opponent to distract people from the fact that two different federal judges found him derelict in his duties and have forced him to accept absentee ballots to be counted and those who are being held captive by the exact match system to be allowed to vote,” Abrams said Sunday on “State of the Union.”
“He is desperate to turn the conversation away from his failures, from his refusal to honor his commitments and from the fact that he’s part of a nationwide system of voter suppression that will not work in this election because we’re going to outwork him, we’re going to out vote him and we’re going to win,” she said.
Broce said the Secretary of State’s Office immediately alerted both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
The FBI declined to comment.
“The State of Georgia has notified us of this issue. We defer to the State for further details,” a DHS official said in a statement to CNN.
The Democratic National Committee deferred questions from CNN to the Georgia Democratic Party.
CNN has reached out to Kemp’s campaign for comment.
Kemp has also been accused in a federal lawsuit of failing to secure his state’s voting system as secretary of state and allowing a massive breach in 2016 that exposed 6 million registered Georgia voters’ records and other sensitive election information.
Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance and a plaintiff in the suit, said in August that it remained unclear if Georgia’s election system was infected with malware or potentially breached by foreign hackers.
The coalition’s lawsuit sought to force the state to implement paper ballot-based voting so results could be audited. Georgia is one of only a handful of states that currently use voting machines statewide without paper trails.
Kemp responded by assuring that Georgia’s voting equipment “remains accurate and secure” and that the “hysteria” behind pressuring Georgia to switch to a paper ballot system is based on “misinformation.”