Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican governor-elect, pushed a baseless claim alleging that Democrats hacked the state’s voter database days before the election he won by fewer than 60,000 votes, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has discovered. Three days before the November election, then-Secretary of State Kemp was tied with Democrat Stacey Abrams in the polls amid criticism that he had improperly purged hundreds of thousands of voters from the state’s rolls. With just 72 hours before the vote, it was discovered that Kemp’s office had left the state’s voter registration system exposed on the internet. Kemp responded by accusing the Georgia Democratic Party of trying to hack into the voter database to try to affect the election. The Journal-Constitution has now discovered, weeks after Kemp’s narrow electoral victory, that there was “no evidence” backing any of Kemp’s allegations at the time and “none has emerged in the six weeks since.” It “appears unlikely that any crime occurred,” the newspaper concluded.
“There was no way a reasonable person would conclude this was an attempted attack,” University of Michigan computer scientist Matthew Bernhard told the Journal-Constitution.
Instead, the investigation found that Kemp and his staff used his secretary of state office to protect his gubernatorial campaign by launching baseless allegations. Kemp had refused to step down as the overseer of his own election despite repeated calls to do so.
“He was doing anything he could do to win,” Rebecca DeHart, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, told The Journal-Constitution, adding that it “was an extraordinary abuse of power.”
Kemp did not respond to the report but denied any wrongdoing the day before the election.
“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?’” he said at the time. “I’m not worried about how it looks. I’m doing my job.”