Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic nominee for governor, lashed out against Republican challenger Brian Kemp on Sunday over his office’s 11th-hour claim that Democrats had attempted to hack into the state’s voter registration system.
The office of Georgia’s secretary of state announced Sunday ― just two days before the midterm elections ― that it had opened an investigation a day earlier into the Democratic Party of Georgia over an unspecified alleged cyber attack.
But Abrams brushed off the probe as Kemp’s “desperate attempt to turn the conversation away from his failures” as Georgia’s secretary of state in the lead up to the gubernatorial election on Tuesday.
“I’ve heard nothing about it,” Abrams told CNN’s “State Of The Union” when asked about the investigation. “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 forced him to allow absentee ballots to be counted and those who are being held captive by the exact match system be allowed to vote.”
She continued: “He is desperate to turn the conversation away from his failures, from his refusal to honor his commitments, and from the fact that he is 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 outvote him, and we are going to win.”
Kemp’s office said Sunday that it had alerted the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, but did not provide details about the alleged hacking attempt in its press release.
“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,” Candice Broce, Kemp’s press secretary, said in a statement. “We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure.”
Representatives for both Kemp’s office and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Democratic Party of Georgia vehemently denied the accusation in a statement on Sunday, calling the probe “yet another example of abuse of power by an unethical Secretary of State.”
“To be very clear, Brian Kemp’s scurrilous claims are 100 percent false, and this so-called investigation was unknown to the Democratic Party of Georgia until a campaign operative in Kemp’s official office released a statement this morning,” Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement.
In a subsequent statement, DeHart noted that the Democratic Party of Georgia is concerned about election security, but “did not create, discover, or attempt to take advantage of the deeply vulnerable system used by the Secretary of State’s office.”
Brian Kemp has a long and well documented history of failing to protect the security of Georgia’s elections system. In 2016, Kemp was one of the only secretaries of state in the country to refuse help from the Department of Homeland Security to improve election security, leaving Georgians vulnerable to foreign cyber attacks. On two occasions, Kemp’s office leaked personal information including the social security numbers of six million Georgians, forcing Georgia taxpayers to foot the bill for credit monitoring because Brian Kemp’s office made Georgians vulnerable to identity theft. ...
As Kemp aims to deflect blame for his failures, the questions everyone must be asking is: Why was the system vulnerable in the first place? Why has Brian Kemp still not taken basic steps to secure Georgians’ personal information?
Later Sunday, Kemp’s office released an additional statement on the probe, contending they opened an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia “after receiving information from our legal team about failed efforts to breach” the voter registration system.
The statement did not address the numerous vulnerabilities within the system as outlined by the Democratic organization.
Investigative journalism website WhoWhatWhy reported Sunday that they had received an email and document, sent from the Democratic Party of Georgia to election security experts, that highlights “massive” vulnerabilities within the state’s online voter registration system.
Cybersecurity experts examined the code used to build My Voter Page, Georgia’s online voter registration site, and told WhoWhatWhy that they determined data of voters could easily be accessed, changed or even cancelled.
Bruce Brown, lawyer for the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance, told WhoWhatWhy that the security vulnerabilities suggested Kemp had failed in protecting the security of voter information as Georgia’s secretary of state.
“That Kemp would turn this around and blame other people for his failures is reflective of his complete failure as Secretary of State,” Brown told the outlet. “Putting his own political agenda over the security of the election, Kemp is ignoring his responsibility to the people of Georgia.”
Polls currently show a tight race between Abrams and Kemp. If elected, Abrams would be the first black woman governor in the country.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.
This article has been updated to include additional comments from Kemp’s office.