Georgia: State That Exposed 6 Million Voters’ Private Data Says It Doesn’t Need Election Security Aid | ThinkProgress

Georgia’s aging, paperless voting machines have been called a “sitting duck” for hackers. Six million Georgia voters had reams of personal information exposed by a data breach in Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office earlier this year. Yet Kemp is refusing an offer from the Department of Homeland Security to help shore up the cyber-security of the state’s vulnerable voting machines. Instead, he accused the federal government of attempting to “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” He said the state is capable of handling its own election security, and opined a hack is “not probable at all.” Less than a year ago, Kemp’s office accidentally mailed out a dozen discs containing the private information of more than six million Georgia voters, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers. At the time, Kemp told state lawmakers that while he is “no expert on data security,” he was confident that no information “made it out to the bad guys.” A year before that, tens of thousands of new voter registrations went missing from the state’s database — the vast majority of them belonging to low-income people of color.

Georgia: Secretary of State Brian Kemp responds to Justice Department interest | Albany Herald

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has responded to Democratic Party of Georgia claims that his office had “attracted the interest” of the federal Justice Department with a barb aimed at department. “The Department of Justice is like a yo-yo. Now they’re against something that they previously approved,” Kemp said Thursday in response to a request from The Albany Herald to comment on the Democratic Party’s statement. Kemp’s office drew the interest of Justice when that federal agency was asked to look into alleged violations of the National Voter Registration and Help America Vote acts by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. The charges centered on what the state Democratic Party claims is a purging of legitimate voters from Georgia’s voter rolls.

Georgia: Lawsuit accuses Secretary of State of illegally removing voters from rolls | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A federal lawsuit has accused Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp of illegally bumping Georgia voters off the state’s rolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Kemp’s office has denied the claim. The suit filed by the Georgia NAACP and government watchdog group Common Cause said the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act because of its longtime practice of sending “confirmation of address” notices to voters who haven’t cast a ballot in three years — and removing them from active status if they eventually do not respond. “People have a right to vote and they also have a constitutional right not to vote,” said attorney Emmet J. Bondurant, who is representing the groups. Federal law, he said, does not allow state officials to demand confirmation of address if they have no reason to believe a voter has moved other than that they have not cast a ballot.

Georgia: Culture of expediency also to blame in voter data breach | Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which acknowledged last month it inadvertently released personal information on every registered voter in the state, has blamed a single employee for the breach. But records show the problem was deeper than the Secretary of State’s office has acknowledged, revealing a business culture that ignored written policies for the sake of expediency, according to a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who declined to answer the AJC’s questions, blamed the release of Social Security numbers, birth dates and drivers’ license numbers on Gary Cooley, a low-level computer programmer. Kemp quickly fired Cooley, saying he failed to follow data-handling procedures and covered up his mistake for weeks.

Georgia: Brian Kemp releases Georgia data breach report | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A long-awaited state report detailing how Georgia gave out more than 6 million voters’ Social Security numbers and other private data put the blame squarely on a employee fired for the breach last month. That employee, longtime state programmer Gary Cooley, flouted office protocol and policy within Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office, according to the internal report about the data breach released Monday by the office and the state Department of Human Resources. The breach, it said, “was due to Mr. Cooley working outside of and circumventing established policies and procedures,” the report concluded. It called for more training, clearer policies and more active management of sensitive data.

Georgia: Data breach: State to offer voters ID theft monitoring | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced plans Thursday to offer 6.2 million registered voters a year of free credit and identity theft monitoring services. The announcement came more than two weeks after a massive data breach at the agency exposed those voters’ personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates. An agency spokesman said the move is expected to cost $1.2 million, paid by the agency through reserve funds. Kemp said he has contracted with Austin, Texas-based CSID for services that will be available within 10 to 14 business days. Additionally, he said all Georgia voters in the breach whose identity is compromised will be eligible for identity theft restoration services if their identity is compromised over the next year.

Georgia: Improper release of voter data prompts outside audit of state agency | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp plans to hire top auditing agency Ernst & Young to review his technology department in the wake of a data breach that exposed private information of more than 6 million voters. In a statement sent out after 6 p.m. Friday, Kemp also acknowledged a “similar but more limited” incident occurred in October 2012. According to emails obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request about that incident, 12 voter registration lists containing sensitive personal data were sent out to people in 15 counties. But Kemp’s statement said “all of the information was recovered at the time.” News of the most recent incident became widely known Wednesday, when the AJC wrote about a class-action lawsuit alleging a massive data breach in the Secretary of State’s Office.

Georgia: Lawmakers want proof voter information has been secured after data breach | WSB

State lawmakers say they want more answers about the massive data breach involving millions of Georgia residents. Specifically: What steps organizations that mistakenly got our information took to secure it? From the beginning, the secretary of state has said the data on six million voters is secure. But now lawmakers want proof. … Kemps’ office told Channel 2’s Lori Geary they’re going back to the outlets that received the information to get written assurances no copies of the files exist. That’s not sitting well with Kemp’s critics. “All the pieces of ID theft are in that file. Your name, your birthdate, your Social Security number,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb.

Georgia: Secretary of state fires employee after releasing info of more than 6 million voters | Associated Press

Georgia’s secretary of state said Thursday that he takes “full responsibility” for more than 6 million voters’ personal information being released to media and political parties and has fired an employee who he said is at fault. Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement that as of Thursday morning, all 12 discs containing sensitive information had been retrieved or destroyed. “My staff has verified with the media outlets and political parties that received these discs that they have not copied or otherwise disseminated confidential voter data to outside sources,” he said. “I am confident that our voters’ personal information has not been compromised.”

Georgia: Lawsuit accuses Georgia of massive data breach | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Two Georgia women have filed a class action lawsuit alleging a massive data breach by Secretary of State Brian Kemp involving the Social Security numbers and other private information of more than six million voters statewide. The suit, filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges Kemp’s office released the information including personal identifying information to the media, political parties and other paying subscribers who legally buy voter information from the state. In response, Kemp’s office blamed a “clerical error” and said Wednesday afternoon that they did not consider it to be a breach of its system. It said 12 organizations, including statewide political parties, news media organizations and Georgia GunOwner Magazine, received the file.

Georgia: DeKalb County’s LaVista Hills election investigated for tampering | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the GBI opened an investigation Thursday into alleged voting irregularities – including a stray voting machine memory card – in the referendum that narrowly defeated the proposed city of LaVista Hills. A DeKalb election supervisor alleged that he found an unsecured memory card Wednesday that contained results from the Briarlake Elementary precinct, according to Channel 2 Action News. It’s unknown whether the votes on the memory card were counted in the precinct’s totals, where voters supported LaVista Hills 378-313.

Editorials: Register Minority Voters in Georgia, Go to Jail | The New Republic

In the weeks leading up to the 2012 election, Helen Ho, an attorney who has worked to register newly naturalized immigrants to vote in the Southeast, made an alarming discovery. Some new citizens that her group, then known as the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, had tried to register in Georgia were still not on the rolls. Early voting had begun and polling places were challenging and even turning away new citizens seeking to vote for the first time. After more than a week of seeking answers from the office of Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, which oversees elections, AALAC issued a sharply worded open letter on October 31 demanding that Georgia take immediate action to ensure the new citizens could vote. Two days later Ho received her response. In a letter, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, offered few specific assurances about the new voters in question and informed Ho that his office was launching an investigation into how AALAC registered these would-be voters. Kemp’s office asked that AALAC turn over certain records of its registration efforts, citing “potential legal concerns surrounding AALAC’s photocopying and public disclosure of voter registration applications.”

National: Southern states look to regional 2016 primary | Associated Press

On the gridiron, it takes a team to win, and some elected officials around the South are looking to band together rather than brawl over the 2016 presidential primaries. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is among those pushing a regional March 1, 2016 contest known as the “SEC Primary,” named after the Southeastern Conference and would include states like Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi and possibly Alabama and Louisiana. “As someone who went to the University of Georgia and lives in Athens and understands how powerful the Southeastern Conference is in football today, that is exactly what we want to be when it comes to presidential politics,” Kemp said. Although the state primaries would be held for each party, much of the focus would be on the large group of Republican presidential contenders expected to vie for the nomination.

Georgia: 40,000 ‘Missing’ Voters in Georgia Are Unlikely to Regain their Ballot | New Republic

ver the past few months, upwards of 40,000 voter registrations from three counties in Georgia have reportedly gone missing. The groups that registered most of these voters, the Georgia chapter of the NAACP and the New Georgia Project, filed a lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, alleging that most of those missing registrations are from “members of the underrepresented classes of voters.” The lawsuit went before the court on Friday October 24. By the following Tuesday, the judge had dismissed the case, writing that “there has been no failure of clear legal duty,” and asserting that there was still time for the missing registrations to appear. The stakes in Georgia are high. The Senate contest between David Perdue and Michelle Nunn has hovered within a couple of percentage points. The Governor’s race between Nathan Deal and Jason Carter is just as close. The loss of tens of thousands of voter registrations is a big deal. In the four years that Brian Kemp has served as Georgia’s secretary of state, most of the issues that various voting rights activist groups have flagged have been about voter identification. This isn’t the first time, or the second, or even the third that Kemp has clashed with civil rights groups over voter registration. In 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court found that a Georgia law requiring first-time voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship (that went above and beyond federal requirements) violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Kemp called the decision “disappointing.” Last Monday, on the eve of the dismissal of the lawsuit, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that eight protestors were arrested because they refused to leave Kemp’s office after breaking off from a larger rally and sit-in at the state Capitol.

Georgia: Parties brace for war over voter registrations in Georgia Senate race | The Hill

Georgia’s tight Senate race could be headed for the courtroom after voters head to the ballot box. A state judge ruled earlier this week against civil rights groups seeking to force the Georgia secretary of State to account for roughly 40,000 voter registrations that were filed but allegedly haven’t shown up on the voting rolls. Those voters could have a big impact on the tight open seat contest between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. That initial ruling raises the possibility of further post-election legal action — and is likely to increase the number of potential provisional ballots, the type of votes that get fought over in court in close elections. Civil rights groups are vowing to fight to make sure every new voter they helped register gets their vote counted after next Tuesday. And both parties are quietly preparing for chaos in close races like the current deadlocked battle, where the results could be fought out in the courts as well as in a runoff. At issue are a large chunk of the more than 100,000 new voters registered by the state NAACP and the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group focused on registering African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic voters.

National: New Voting Restrictions Could Swing the 2014 Election | The Nation

On Monday, October 27, eight activists with Moral Monday Georgia occupied the office of Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, holding signs that read “Let Us Vote.” There are 800,000 unregistered African-American, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters in Georgia. This year, the New Georgia Project registered 85,000 of them. After the applications were submitted, Kemp subpoenaed the group’s records and accused them of voter registration fraud. It turned out that only 25 of the forms were fraudulent and the group was required by law to turn them in regardless. Despite the scant evidence of voter fraud, 40,000 new voter registration applications have yet to be processed in the state, according to the New Georgia Project. Civil rights groups sued Kemp and voter registration boards in five heavily populated urban counties, but on Wednesday a Fulton County judge dismissed the lawsuit. It was the latest court decision restricting voting rights this election year.

Georgia: 50,000 Missing Georgia Voter-Registration Applications? Nothing to See Here | The Daily Beast

Voting-rights advocates are running out of time in Georgia, where civil-rights groups say more than 50,000 new voter registrations have gone missing since they submitted them to state and local officials earlier this year. But with Election Day less than a week away, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brian Kemp, is insisting that every voter-registration application submitted by Georgians before the registration deadline has been processed. The missing potential voters? He says there aren’t any. On Tuesday, a county judge sided with Kemp and rejected a request by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP, and the New Georgia Project to intervene in the dispute, on which the two sides disagree on nearly every detail, including whether there is a problem at all. “This decision guarantees that there are going to be significant numbers of people who will be disenfranchised and not be put onto the voter-registration rolls even though they are eligible to vote,” said Julie Houk, senior counsel for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, after the judge’s ruling, which the groups will likely appeal. “What good is early voting if people’s names aren’t on the rolls to vote?”

Georgia: Court Ruling May ‘Wreak Havoc’ On Election Day | Huffington Post

Voting rights advocates are considering legal options after a Georgia judge denied their lawsuit that would have compelled the state to add 40,000 newly registered voters to the rolls. Judge Christopher Brasher said voters whose registration applications were lost may cast provisional ballots in next week’s election. But he declined to force Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and counties to ensure voting for the thousands of new voters. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the New Georgia Project, and the Georgia branch of the NAACP are weighing whether to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. “You’ve got a situation that was designed to wreak havoc on the elections office if a large number of provisional ballots are cast,” Julie Houk, a senior special counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ voting rights project, told The Huffington Post Wednesday. She said provisional ballots are “not an adequate remedy” because “registered voters are entitled to cast a regular ballot.”

Georgia: Judge may enter Georgia voter registration dispute | Associated Press

A Georgia state judge is weighing whether it’s appropriate for him to intervene in a dispute over more than 50,000 voter registration records in one of the nation’s most politically contested states. Lawyers for the NAACP and a voter registration group that recruited new minority voters allege that elections officials have misplaced or mishandled more than half of the 86,000 voter registration applications that they collected ahead of an Oct. 6 deadline. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and elections officials in several counties — most of them majority Democratic — say they are correctly processing all the forms. Attorneys for the groups said they feared that would-be voters, several of whom attended Friday’s hearing, would not have their ballots counted, and they asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher to compel the counties and Kemp to confirm the voters’ registration or explain any denials. “What does the law require that they haven’t done?” Brasher asked, noting that Georgia election law doesn’t set specific deadlines for county elections boards to process applications.

Georgia: Concern Over New-Voter Registration In Georgia Ahead Of Election | NPR

This election season is proving to be tough for Democrats, but many believe they can turn the red state of Georgia blue with the help of new voters. One voter registration campaign led by the New Georgia Project, a “nonpartisan effort” according to its website, has targeted black, Latino and Asian-American residents. The organization’s parent group, Third Sector Development, is currently engaged in a legal battle with election officials over more than 40,000 voter registration applications that, the group says, are missing from Georgia’s voter logs. This month, that organization, along with the NAACP and other civil rights groups, filed a lawsuit against five counties and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees elections in the state.

Georgia: Records cast more doubt on Georgia fraud probe claims | MSNBC

A bitter feud between a voter registration group and Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State has seen a lawsuit, claims of voter suppression, a politically motivated effort to hype voter fraud, and fears that large numbers of minority voters could be disenfranchised. But in the final analysis, it perhaps says just as much about less sensational but more intractable problems in the way we run elections. How the fracas gets resolved may play a key role in Georgia’s tight U.S. Senate race, which could hang on minority turnout, and might end up determining control of the chamber next year. The latest twist in the saga came Monday evening, when a local news report cast doubt on claims made by Secretary of State Brian Kemp to justify a controversial investigation he launched last month into the New Georgia Project (NGP), a voter registration group working in minority areas.

Georgia: Records at odds with voter fraud probe claim | WXIA

Documents obtained from Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office appear to contradict Kemp’s claim that a voter fraud probe was based on numerous complaints from counties across Georgia. For weeks, Democrats have hinted that Secretary of State Brian Kemp is trying to keep newly registered Democrats off the voters rolls. Kemp, a Republican, makes no apologies for investigating the New Georgia Project — which has focused on registering Democratic-leaning minority voters. Last week, Kemp said again that reports of potential voter fraud led to the probe.

Georgia: Legal action — and mass voter confusion — looms in Georgia as Election Day nears | The Washington Post

A fight over alleged voter registration fraud in Georgia appears headed to the courts as early voting begins in the state, amid concerns that tens of thousands of Georgians who show up to vote may learn instead that their registration forms were never processed. More than 81,000 new voters were registered during this campaign cycle by the New Georgia Project, which targets unregistered African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Increased minority turnout in November could make the difference for Democrats in the state’s tight gubernatorial race between Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Jason Carter (D) and the increasingly competitive U.S. Senate race between David Perdue (R) and Michelle Nunn (D). “When you talk to Republican campaign operatives, yeah, they’re quite worried” about the long term electoral impact of growth in minority turnout, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. “They know the Georgia electorate isn’t going to become whiter.”

Georgia: Kemp says ‘missing’ voters accounted for in Georgia | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Thursday blasted accusations that his office has failed to help thousands of voters register to vote, saying “we should not have to waste valuable resources on a frivolous lawsuit.” It’s the first time Kemp has commented since the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed suit against him and five Georgia counties last week, asking a state judge to make sure more than 55,000 people will be able to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Kemp, however, said his office has now confirmed nearly 40,000 of those voters are active and on the rolls despite accusations to the contrary. He said almost 10,000 more are on the state’s “pending” voter list, meaning those voters have been asked to provide more information to confirm their identities.

Georgia: Voter Registration Drive in Georgia Leads to Lawsuit | Wall Street Journal

With a little over three weeks to go before elections in close races for U.S. Senate and governor, an escalating fight between Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and a Democratic-leaning voter registration group is moving to court. Third Sector Development Inc., the parent nonprofit of the New Georgia Project that has been working to register minority voters, has filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and five county election boards, claiming officials have failed to process tens of thousands of voter applications ahead of the Nov. 4 vote. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the suit, which calls on the court to force the secretary of state and the boards to speed up processing the applications.

Georgia: State official sued over voter registration backlog | Politico

A coalition of civil rights organizations on Friday sued the Georgia secretary of state’s office and five counties over an alleged backlog of 40,000 voter registration forms. The lawsuit was filed just days before early voting begins on Monday in the state, which features tightly contested races for both governor and Senate this year. Filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the suit asks a judge to order the counties and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to immediately process the remaining forms. A Democratic-backed group called the New Georgia Project contends that 40,000 of the people it signed up have yet to appear on the voter rolls or be listed as “pending.” In some cases, they contend, those people registered months ago.

Georgia: Leaders worry over 42,000 missing voters | Henry Daily Herald

Just one week away from the start of early voting, at least 42,000 residents who registered to vote still haven’t been given that right. Some applied as far back as April. “The Secretary of State is supposed to represent all the people — Democrats, Republicans, Independents, registered and unregistered voters alike,” Congressman John Lewis said Monday, during a press conference hosted by the New Georgia Project in Atlanta. “But it seems like the Secretary of State of Georgia has picked sides in this election. It seems he is not on the side of the people of this state.” Stacey Abrams, the Democratic party leader in the state House of Representatives, leads the New Georgia Project, an initiative that aims to register minority groups to vote. The initiative was successful in registering 86,000 new voters — but Abrams said the group can’t understand why half those new voters haven’t shown up on Georgia’s official list of registered voters, yet.

Georgia: Why was the New Georgia Project subpoenaed? | MSNBC

Republican officials in Georgia, a state that will host some very competitive statewide elections this year, haven’t exactly been champions of voting rights recently. One GOP state senator, for example, recently complained about Sunday voting in an Atlanta shopping mall “dominated by African American shoppers.” Around the same time, we learned about remarks Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) made in July, when he expressed concern about Democrats “registering all these minority voters that are out there.” It’s against this backdrop that the Republican Secretary of State – Georgia’s top elections official – also subpoenaed the New Georgia Project, which happens to be the driving force behind the state’s largest voter-registration campaign. As Joan Walsh noted, the recently launched probe is so broad, it could tie up the voter-registration organization “indefinitely.”

Georgia: On one side voter registration probe a big deal, on the other not so much | Online Athens

Beyond the headlines and campaign rhetoric, the state’s investigation into possible irregularities by a Democratic-leaning group’s efforts to register blacks, Asians and Hispanics to vote has many facets, and not all are yet known. The investigation into the New Georgia Project began in early May, when local registrars started reporting to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division that voters had complained of intimidation and that documents turned in by the group appeared suspicious. In all, officials in 13 counties so far — from Effingham and Toombs in the southeast to Coweta and Gwinnett in the northwest — have submitted suspicious documents to state investigators. Since Secretary of State Brian Kemp is a Republican, Democrats and officials of the New Georgia Project have alleged in the media that the investigation is a GOP attempt at minority voter suppression. But many of the complaints that triggered the probe originated in Democrat-controlled counties like Muscogee, DeKalb and Fulton.

Georgia: State says 25 voter applications of 85,000 “confirmed” forgeries | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Investigators backed away Wednesday from allegations a Democratic-backed group may have organized voter registration fraud, saying they can confirm 25 applications of more than 85,000 submitted to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Chief investigator Chris Harvey, however, said the office needed more information from the New Georgia Project to confirm no more fraudulent forms existed — already, it has identified another 26 applications as suspicious. The state has extended a deadline for the group to get investigations such information through Sept. 26. Harvey spoke after the group’s leaders said Secretary of State Brian Kemp may be ignoring more than 51,000 unprocessed voter registration applications to instead pursue what they called “a witch hunt.” With the state’s Oct. 6 registration deadline quickly approaching, state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta,and more than a dozen civil rights and religious leaders who support the New Georgia Project called on Kemp —the state’s top elections official — to focus on ensuring ballot access to thousands of new voters they and others have signed up this election year.