Remember all those who said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp should step down from his current office while running for governor? Well, this is one really good reason why he should have done so.
Just two days before voters head to the polls in a closely watched race between Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who could become the first black governor of Georgia, Kemp’s office—which oversees the elections—announced it has launched an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party for unspecified cybercrime allegations.
Bear in mind that in the past few years, Kemp’s office already has embarked on one of the most blatant voter suppression efforts in recent memory, targeting mostly African American and women voters.
On Sunday, the Kemp-run Secretary of State’s office issued a brief statement announcing the investigation, providing few other details.
“After a failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system, the Secretary of State’s office opened an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia on the evening of Saturday, November 3, 2018. Federal partners, including the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, were immediately alerted,” the statement said.
Press Secretary Candice Broce said, “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.”
“We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure,” she added.
Given Kemp’s conflict of interest in the matter, it’s hard to take this vague accusation at face value. The Intercept’s Shaun King described that conflict:
It is, of course, an outrageous conflict of interest for the man who oversees Georgia’s elections to be simultaneously running for the highest office in the state. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single reasonable person who says otherwise. Kemp should have stepped down from his role as secretary of state, or at least recused himself from all election oversight, the moment he decided to run for governor.
On Friday, a federal judge ruled against yet another of Kemp’s attempts to suppress voters by using an “exact match” rule, our sister site The Root reported. Kemp had used this rule to block thousands of voters over discrepancies between a voter’s registration and state records such as DMV data. The judge said that the NAACP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the complaint, would likely win the case, and she ordered those voters to be allowed to cast their ballots by bringing their IDs to the polls.
Abrams responded Sunday to news of the investigation by saying, “This is a desperate attempt on the part of my opponent to distract people from the fact that two different federal judges found him derelict of his duties and have forced him to allow absentee ballots to be counted, and those who are being held captive by the exact-match system to be allowed to vote.”
She added: “He is desperate to turn the conversation away from his failures, from his refusal to honor his commitments, and from the fact that he’s part of a nationwide system of voter suppression that will not work in this election…”
A poll published Thursday by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs shows the two candidates in a statistical tie, with Abrams at 46.9% and Kemp at 46.7%, raising the possibility of a runoff vote in December.
California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna has called on Abrams to refuse to concede should she lose on Tuesday. “If @staceyabrams ends up with less votes in a close but illegitimate election, she should REFUSE to concede,” Khanna tweeted last month.