November 5, 2018; WSB-TV and The Root
“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” A saying made most popular by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, but it seemingly applies to politics in this midterm election season. Last week, NPQ reported that voter suppression is re-emerging in 2018, especially in the state of Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams faces off against Brian Kemp for the governor’s seat in one of the most watched and iconic races of 2018.
“Iconic” is 40 Black senior citizens told to get off a bus that was taking them to a poll station to cast early votes. “Iconic” is a Republican gubernatorial candidate—and secretary of state, and election chief—invoking the “exact-match” law to suspend 53,000 voter-registration applications for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. “Iconic” means irregularities reported with voting machines across Georgia, including vote-switching and touch screen malfunctions. But then, over last weekend, a coalition of civil rights groups won an injunction against the use of the controversial voter regulating software, Exact Match, allowing some 3,000 naturalized US citizens to vote in elections this week and prevented the state from throwing out some absentee ballots.
Great wins for voters and for the state of Georgia, right? Yes, until Saturday evening.
Saturday evening, the secretary of state’s office (aka Brian Kemp’s office) announced they were investigating an attempted voter registration hack by the Democratic Party. Yes, you read that right! As voters visited the website to find their voting locations, they were greeted with the headline, “AFTER FAILED HACKING ATTEMPT, SOS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY.” Others were notified, as major news stations, both local and national, sent Breaking News alerts via their apps. What is happening in Georgia?
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Last week, we learned that Georgia has never had a secure voting system. Robert DeMillo, one of the most respected elections systems experts, has stated “that unauditable systems such as Georgia’s pose a very real threat to voting security.” Georgia’s system is rated among the worst in the country, earning a D grade from the Center for American Progress’s election security report. In 2016, after the state’s servers were compromised, Kemp was the only secretary of state to refuse help from the federal government to see if Russians had hacked the servers. Also, when cybersecurity expert Logan Lamb showed how the system’s servers could be exploited to reveal the passwords, voter rolls, and voting machine software, the Coalition for Good Governance wanted the FBI to examine the servers. Instead, Kemp had the servers wiped clean.
Since the beginning of the election season, voter suppression has been prevalent in the state of Georgia. Although every tactic in the book has been used to suppress votes, Georgia still came through with record numbers for early voting—2 million early ballots were cast in 2018, compared to 900,000 early ballots in 2014. Is it coincidental that the Democratic Party is accused of hacking the voting system (with no details provided on the alleged hacking crime) days before Election Day when all other voting suppression tactics have failed and when a record number of people have voted early? Kemp has always believed that his voting system could not be compromised…until now.
Wild speculation, right? “The reason for the wild speculation is because the people responsible for finding out if election tampering is going on aren’t interested in doing so”…until Saturday. Kemp told reporters at a pre-election rally that “[he] is not worried about how it looks, [he] is doing [his] job.” He continued, “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 [he] act?’”
Well, Secretary of State Kemp, we have been telling you that something has been going on over the past several months, and yet here we are, one day before the election with a scandal on our hands said to be caused by the opposing party. Sounds oddly familiar…
Kemp, in a statement on the secretary of state’s website in regard to record early voting numbers, wrote that “it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.” The election results tomorrow will prove if there is any truth to that statement. Georgia, go vote!—Diandria Barber