ATLANTA — The GBI’s Georgia Cyber Crime Center is opening a criminal investigation of alleged computer crimes at the request of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
According to a statement from the GBI early Monday afternoon, the allegations are of “computer crimes related to the Secretary of State’s website(s).”
Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office reiterated on Monday morning, allegations of “failed attempts to hack” the state’s voter registration system against the Democratic Party of Georgia.
In addition to his position as Secretary of State, Kemp is also the Republican nominee for governor, and engaged in one of the nation’s most-watched races with less than 24 hours until the polls open on Election Day.
According to an email from spokesperson Candice Broce, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office was meeting with officials from the federal Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about what she called “these failed attempts to hack the My Voter Page and online voter registration system.”
This came one day after the office issued a statement accusing the state’s Democratic Party of hacking the voter registration system.
According to a New York Times report, the Secretary of State’s investigation was prompted by an email Kemp’s office had obtained which showed someone named “Rachel Small” was talking about “trying to hack the Secretary of State’s system.”
Sunday evening, the Democratic Party of Georgia responded via email. They said Rachel Small is a volunteer for the Democratic Party of Georgia who works on their voter protection hotline.
They supplied an email exchange between Small and Richard Wright, who is not affiliated with the Democratic Party. Wright sent information to Small on Saturday morning alleging issues he had discovered with the My Voter Page.
According to information supplied by the Democratic Party of Georgia on the email exchange, once she received the email from Wright, Small forwarded it on to Sara Ghazal, voter protection director for the Democratic Party of Georgia.
In both emails, Wright and Small pointed out that individuals are able to “download anyone’s data,” which would include drivers license information and the last four digits of an individual’s social security number.
In a statement on Sunday, Democratic Party executive director Rebecca DeHart recalled that a data breach in the Secretary of State’s office in 2015 forced them to offer credit monitoring to more than 6 million voters statewide.
“It is also a fact that Brian Kemp is the last person who can be trusted on cybersecurity given his record of leaking the personal information and social security numbers of 6 million Georgians,” DeHart’s statement said. “Brian Kemp is desperate to save his failing campaign, and it’s likely we’ll see even more of his abuses of power as the election nears, but Georgians will keep working hard, knocking on doors, making phone calls, and voting to make sure he doesn’t get a promotion.”
Democratic Party spokesperson Maggie Chambers demanded that the Secretary of State’s office cease their accusations against the party, going as far as to suggest that the action is being taken by the Kemp campaign.
“As is abundantly clear from these emails, it was Richard Wright, not Rachel Small, who performed the actions described. The Kemp campaign has no case and must immediately retract their defamatory accusations,” Chambers said.
On Monday, Kemp’s spokesperson insisted that the problems highlighted by the Democratic Party’s emails could not be replicated by their own technical staff.
“To be clear, our security team, which includes private sector vendors, were unable to replicate the vulnerabilities alleged by third parties,” Broce said in an email to 11Alive News on Monday morning.
Kemp’s Democratic opponent in the governor’s race, Stacey Abrams appeared on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday and called Kemp’s announcement a “desperate attempt on the part of my opponent to distract people from” judicial rulings against decisions he had previously made as secretary of state.
On Friday, a federal district judge ruled against Kemp. In that ruling, the judge said the state would have to make it easier for voters who had previously been flagged under the secretary’s ‘Exact Match’ rules to vote.
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