n Saturday, voting rights advocates alerted lawyers for the Georgia secretary of state, as well as the FBI, of a potential vulnerability in the state’s election system that they said could allow hackers to obtain and alter private voter information. On Sunday, Republican Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state controls the state’s election process even as he runs for governor, responded by accusing Democrats of possessing software that could have extracted personal voter data, and his office opened an investigation into what it described as “a failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system.” Kemp’s campaign called Democrats “power-hungry radicals” who should be held to account for “their criminal behavior.” Democrats called the probe “an abuse of power.”
The controversy is the latest in a rash of concerns that have flared across the country, as candidates in both parties have traded accusations about threats to ballot integrity amid multiple reports about voting irregularities. The issue has started to affect voter confidence, according to new polling, which shows that a majority of voters in both parties are deeply suspicious about the opposing party’s commitment to fair elections.
The growing uproar follows a spate of restrictive voting laws passed by Republicans in recent years that are now playing out across the country in closely contested races for House, Senate and governor. Lawsuits have been filed and harsh rhetoric has become the norm, with Republicans saying the tough new rules are necessary to combat voter fraud, while voting rights activists say the laws disproportionately affect young Americans and minorities, who tend to vote Democratic.
“All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING,” President Trump tweeted Oct. 20. “Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”