• GBI launches investigation into alleged hacking of state's online voter registry

    By: Tamar Hallerman and Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-constitution

    Updated:

    Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Monday he was not concerned about the optics of his office launching an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia hours before voters head to the polls.

    The GOP nominee for governor said his office is handling the probe, which alleges that someone made a failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system, just as it would any other cybersecurity investigation. 

    [RELATED: Hacking program part of email sent to Georgia Democratic Party, source says]

    Kemp’s office has not produced evidence implicating the Democratic Party.

    “I’m not worried about how it looks. I’m doing my job,” Kemp told reporters after a preelection rally at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport. “This is how we would handle any investigation when something like this comes up. Because I can assure you if I hadn’t done anything and the story came out that something was going on, you’d be going ‘why didn’t you act?’”

    The Republican insisted the state’s voting system is secure, even as the FBI, GBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have gotten involved in the investigation


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    The GBI confirmed to Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that it is investigating.

    "The GBI has been requested by the Secretary of State to investigate allegations of computer crimes related to the Secretary of State's website(s). A criminal investigation will be conducted by the GBI's Georgia Cyber Crime Center," the agency said in its statement.

    The Secretary of State’s office circulated a press release Sunday morning announcing it was investigating the Democratic Party of Georgia for its alleged role in an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the state’s registration system the day prior. Later Sunday, it requested an FBI investigation of “possible cyber crimes,” but it offered no details or concrete evidence about the potential crimes committed. 

    Democrats have vehemently rejected the allegations and argued that Kemp is trying to cover up vulnerabilities that could expose voters’ personal information. 

    Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s Democratic opponent for governor, called the probe a “witch hunt.” 

    "He is trying to rile up his base by misleading voters yet again," Abrams told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik on Sunday. "This is also someone who has a strong habit of having hackable systems. And the problem is, Democrats did nothing wrong. What is happening is that he, once again, is overseeing a vulnerable system and is blaming someone for his mistakes."

    Kemp would not comment on the specifics of the probe beyond stating that he immediately contacted state and federal investigators, whom his office has plans to meet with today. 

    “The system is secure and we’re asking them to look into it,” he said. 

    Democrats have called on Kemp to resign as the state’s top election official while he’s also running to be governor in order to avoid conflicts of interest. 

    Kemp's move to publicly disclose the probe raised the eyebrows of some former elections officials, who feared it could depress voter turnout or undermine trust in the election system. The Republican rejected such claims on Monday. 

    This article was written by Tamar Hallerman and Mark Niesse with The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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