Candidate/election-runner Brian Kemp's hacking accusation is a new, absurd low

Brian Kemp is the Secretary of State for Georgia, where is he also running for governor, meaning that he is overseeing his own election — and in that capacity, he has purged thousands of Black voters from the rolls (the total purge runs to the millions) and distinguished himself as one of the last holdouts for replacing his state's worst-of-breed insecure voting machines with ones that produce a paper audit trail that can be consulted if they are suspected of malfunction.

Kemp, who is running against Stacey Abrams (a Black woman with an "unapologetic progressive" platform) has a long history of voting machine shenanigans (one set of machines was wiped right after Georgia voters filed a lawsuit involving them) and his campaign has been a mix of (semi)coded racism and performative tough-guy stunts.

His latest eleventh-hour salvo has reached a new low for absurdist tragicomedy: Kemp has accused the Democratic Party of hacking into the state's voter registration system in order to steal its records (these records are sold to anyone who asks, by the State of Georgia, for $250!).

Besides the "the Demmycrats hacked us to save $250" weirdness, there's plenty more surrealism in Kemp's accusation: Kemp has accused the Democrats of two separate, mutually exclusive offenses: hacking into the voter registration system to steal its data, and hacking into it to expose its vulnerabilities (vulnerabilities, mind, which have been lavishly documented and demonstrated by independent security researchers).

Kemp is a serial offender when it comes to false accusations of hacking voting systems: in 2016, he accused the Department of Homeland Security of hacking Georgia's vote (in reality, someone at the DHS had visited Kemp's Secretary of State website.

While anything is possible, Kemp's claims seem unlikely on their face, especially when you parse what little information his team has provided. "We opened an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia after receiving information from our legal team about failed efforts to breach the online voter registration system and My Voter Page," his office said in a statement. "We are working with our private sector vendors and investigators to review data logs."

A legal team seems like a surprising source for the discovery of a hacking attempt, and the fact that security teams then began reviewing the logs makes whether any suspicious activity was actually seen an open question. Kemp's office did not provide any information about the alleged attack, or when it purportedly occurred.

"While we cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cyber crimes," Georgia secretary of state press secretary Candice Broce wrote in a statement. Not sharing details of an investigation is a common practice, but that supposed restraint apparently did not apply to the direct, vocal accusation of Kemp's Democratic opposition.

Citing No Evidence, Brian Kemp Accuses Georgia Democrats of Hacking [Lily Hay Newman/Wired]