Georgia Sec. of State calls for FBI vote hacking investigation, points finger at state Democratic party

Key Points
  • The office of Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian P. Kemp, issued a call for an FBI investigation of what it characterized as a failed attack against state voter rolls and the states "My Voter Page," which informs users of registration status and poll locations. 
  • The announcement of the attack said the office has opened an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia over the attempted breach, and called for an FBI investigation. 
  • It's unusual for any organization to speculate on the source of a breach or attempted breach prior to an investigation, and attribution of a cyberattack typically takes weeks or months. 
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Letitia Stein | Reuters

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who also is the GOP's gubernatorial candidate, released a statement on Sunday calling for an FBI investigation into what his office called a "failed" attempt to breach voter rolls.

In making his claim, Kemp cited unusual activity on the state's "My Voter Page," which provides residents information about their registration status and voting locations, while accusing Democrats of culpability.

In a statement, the secretary's office said: "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. We are working with our private sector vendors and investigators to review data logs."

Kemp is running against Stacey Abrams, who has lobbed accusations of voter suppression in the hotly contested governor's race. On Sunday, Abrams called the investigation "desperate," echoing the state's Democratic Party, which called the allegations "100 percent false."

The organization added: "This so-called investigation was unknown to the Democratic Party of Georgia until a campaign operative in Kemp's official office released a statement this morning."

Kemp's move was unusual, as it's rare for organizations to speculate on the perpetrator of a cyberattack prior to an investigation, because a common tactic of cybercriminals to use technology to mask their affiliation and location. Attributing cyberattacks to any individual or entity is a process that typically takes weeks or months by trained investigators.

In an earlier statement, Kemp's 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."

A Department of Homeland Security official told CNBC the office would defer to the Georgia Secretary's office for any further comment, and acknowledged "the State of Georgia has notified us of this issue."

The Georgia Secretary of State's office was not immediately available for further comment.

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