Georgia's Brian Kemp And The No Good, Very Bad Claim That Democrats Were Hacking Voter Registration System

from the can-we-not? dept

Okay, let’s start with this. Can we all agree — no matter what your party, ideological, or candidate preference — that in any election where you are up for one of the offices, that you shouldn’t be the one in charge of safeguarding the integrity of the election? This seems like a fairly basic point concerning democracy, that if you’re a candidate for office, you should recuse yourself from anything involving election integrity. However, that’s not the way things work around here, apparently. In at least three key elections this year, current secretaries of state, who are in charge of election integrity, are running for higher office while being in charge of counting their own votes. It just so happens that this year all three of those cases involve Republicans (and all three of those Republicans have a long and fairly detailed history of voter suppression tactics), but the issue applies equally to Democrats who might be in the same position. No one who is in charge of election integrity should ever be in the position of running for office at the same time.

But let’s focus in on just one of the three individuals in that situation this year: Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, who is in a very heated campaign to be Governor of Georgia, campaigning against Democrat Stacey Abrams. As you may know, our stated policy on Techdirt is that we tend not to name the party affiliation of any politician, unless it truly matters to the story. That’s because in this age of red team/blue team insanity, many people determine what they agree or disagree with depending on the color of the uniform. However, in this story, the party affiliations matter, not for which one is which (we could have posted an identical story with the party’s changed), but because the dispute here clearly involves partisan politics.

As you may have heard, on Sunday, just two days before the election, Kemp (who’s been getting hit with a bunch of bad headlines around his failed attempts at voter suppression in that state) announced that he had opened an investigation into an alleged “failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system” by the Democratic Party of Georgia. Most of the headlines about this correctly noted that Kemp’s office provided basically zero details to support this claim. Indeed, the entire announcement was two very short paragraphs long:

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.

“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,” said Candice Broce, Press Secretary. “We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure.”

Before we dig into what appears to have happened, it’s time to take a little jump back in time. You see, back in 2016, Georgia Secretary of State Kemp also raised the alarm about what he claimed was an attempt by the US Department of Homeland Security to “breach” his office’s firewall. Kemp sent an angry letter to then DHS boss Jeh Johnson, insisting that this was a sneaky attempt by DHS to do penetration testing and test the security of Georgia’s election systems without permission.

Except… none of that was accurate. Six months later, the investigation revealed that Kemp misinterpreted someone from DHS checking an openly accessible database on the Secretary of State’s site to check firearms licenses.

An earlier, internal DHS investigation into the reported incident showed that the “attempt to penetrate the Georgia Secretary of State’s firewall” was actually residual traffic from a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center employee checking the Georgia firearms license database. That employee said he was doing due diligence on private security contractors for the facility.

That traffic, the first report determined, was caused by the employee cutting and pasting data from the database to Microsoft Excel, which sent light traffic to the Georgia server while parsing the data. That traffic would have been in no way abnormal.

The DHS inspector general, which operates independently from the DHS chain of command, conducted a second investigation. It validated the first report’s results

That report further noted that “the DHS internet addresses that contacted the Georgia systems could not be used to attack those systems in the way Kemp described.”

And, as you’ll see, this article is already so long that we won’t bother with more other than a link to another story about how Kemp has been credibly accused of destroying evidence in a still ongoing lawsuit about whether or not Georgia’s voting system was hacked.

So, Kemp already has some credibility problems with “crying wolf” about supposed hacks of his computer systems before. And those should only increase given what appears to have lead to yesterday’s claim of an “investigation.” The small, but respected investigative journalism site WhoWhatWhy has a fairly detailed look at what happened and it looks really, really bad for Kemp. You see, on Saturday, the Democratic Party of Georgia had discovered massive vulnerabilities in the voter registration system overseen by Kemp, and had passed those details on to security experts… and then someone passed them along to WhoWhatWhy.

Just before noon on Saturday, a third party provided WhoWhatWhy with an email and document, sent from the Democratic Party of Georgia to election security experts, that highlights ?massive? vulnerabilities within the state?s My Voter Page and its online voter registration system.

According to the document, it would not be difficult for almost anyone with minimal computer expertise to access millions of people?s private information and potentially make changes to their voter registration ? including canceling it.

The publication spoke to a bunch of security experts, who all noted (correctly) that actually testing the vulnerabilities would be illegal, but…

…several logged onto the My Voter Page to look at the code used to build the site ? something any Georgian voter could do with a little instruction ? and confirmed the voter registration system?s vulnerabilities.

They all agreed with the assessment that the data of voters could easily be accessed and changed.

?For such an easy and low hanging vulnerability to exist, it gives me zero confidence in the capabilities of the system administrator, software developer, and the data custodian,? Kris Constable, who runs a privacy law and data security consulting firm, told WhoWhatWhy. ?They should not be trusted with personally identifiable information again. They have showed incompetence in proper privacy-protecting data custodian capabilities.?

From the reporting, it appears that the vulnerability is the kind of mistake that was common on the web two decades ago, that once you’ve logged in you can access anyone else’s content just by changing the URL. Basically anyone with any degree of knowledge of online security learned to block such a vulnerability at least a decade or more ago. It is astounding that such a vulnerability might still exist online, let alone on something as vital and key to democracy as a state election system.

It appears that this is the basis of Kemp’s new investigation. The Democratic Party had discovered just how poorly Kemp’s own team had built its online voter registration system, and his response is to blame the messenger. Of course, we see this kind of thing all the time in writing about vulnerabilities reporting, and we’ve always pointed out how ridiculous it is. But here, it’s been taken to a new level, because beyond the usual dynamic, here we have the Republican running for Governor overseeing the insecure voting registration system, and it’s the opposing candidate’s party who discovered the vulnerability. This is beyond “blame the messenger.” It’s “blame the messenger who not only showed my own incompetence, but is also running against me for my shot at the big time.”

A later story on WhoWhatWhy details that it wasn’t the Democratic Party who had discovered the vulnerability in the first place, but rather someone else, who then contacted a lawyer for someone already suing Kemp over weaknesses in Georgia’s election system:

A man who claims to be a Georgia resident said he stumbled upon files in his My Voter Page on the secretary of state?s website. He realized the files were accessible. That man then reached out to one of Cross?s clients, who then put the source and Cross in touch on Friday.

The next morning, Cross called John Salter, a lawyer who represents Kemp and the secretary of state?s office. Cross also notified the FBI.

As noted above, WhoWhatWhy reached out to multiple security experts who all confirmed the vulnerability — and apparently all five of them noted that actually testing the vulnerability would be illegal. But all five of them were able to just look at the code on the site and confirm the vulnerability was real and could be used to alter voter information in the rolls, which is an especially big deal considering that one of Kemp’s voter suppression methods was to insist that if any tiny bit of your information did not match what was in the rollbook, you couldn’t vote.

The report further notes that the security researchers approached by WhoWhatWhy reached out to both US intelligence officials and the Coalition for Good Government, who also reached out to Kemp’s own lawyers to alert him to the problems in the system:

Bruce Brown, a lawyer for the group, then reached out to Kemp?s attorneys to alert them of the problem. At 7:03 PM Saturday night, he emailed John Salter and Roy Barnes, former governor of Georgia, in their capacities as counsel to Secretary of State Kemp, to notify them of the serious potential cyber vulnerability in the registration files that had been discovered without any hacking at all, and that national intelligence officials had already been notified.


?What is particularly outrageous about this, is that I gave this information in confidence to Kemp?s lawyers so that something could be done about it without exposing the vulnerability to the public,? Brown told WhoWhatWhy. ?Putting his own political agenda over the security of the election, Kemp is ignoring his responsibility to the people of Georgia.?

You really should read the entire WhoWhatWhy article (or, actually, both of the ones I’ve linked to here) because it goes into much more detail than I’ve described here, and all of it is mind-bogglingly stupid. Just to give you a taste, the report details not just one, but multiple vulnerabilities, including this:

In the code of the website ? which anybody can access using their internet browser ? there is a series of numbers that represent voters in a county. By changing a number in the web browser?s interface and then changing the county, it appears that anybody could download every single Georgia voter?s personally identifiable information and possibly modify voter data en masse.

In addition, voter history, absentee voting, and early voting data are all public record on the secretary of state?s website. If a bad actor wanted to target a certain voting group, all of the information needed is available for download.

?It?s so juvenile from an information security perspective that it?s crazy this is part of a live system,? Constable said.

Oh, and then there’s this: while Kemp’s office insist what they are misleadingly calling a hack from the Democratic Party “failed,” according to the various security experts WhoWhatWhy spoke to, there didn’t appear to be any logging, meaning there wouldn’t necessarily be a way to see if anyone had actually changed the information. It goes on and on like this.

And, rather than admitting a fuck up of colossal proportions for a voting system, Kemp is claiming the Democratic Party of Georgia hacked the election system. Again, no matter who you support as a candidate, can we at least all agree that something is rotten in the state of Georgia when it comes to how they manage their election systems?

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Comments on “Georgia's Brian Kemp And The No Good, Very Bad Claim That Democrats Were Hacking Voter Registration System”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

New Coke was brilliant. Coke wanted to change the formula, but knew they couldn’t get away with it. So they introduced new coke which was almost pepsi. Then when people complained they switched to coke classic which was almost old coke, but was cheaper to make. So they got a bunch of publicity, got a bunch of pepsi drinkers to try coke, and they got to change the formula without a huge uproar.

It was all planned, so don’t go saying bad things about New Coke.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

This reminds me of all the congressional virtue warriors found to be committing the very crime they were campaigning against, be it the imagined crime of consensual gay sex, or the very real crime of sex with a minor.

We can add claims of hacking the election by the guy in charge of a voting database that seems designed to be hacked, has already been purged of opposing voices based on data inconsistencies that can easily be faked, and a lack of logging to inform the electorate of who done it.

bob says:

aluminum foil hat time.

Who said this design wasn’t intentional. No logging of changes, no security of information… Looks way too convenient to me. Almost like a poison pill that could be triggered if one side lost the election. Just pop it and instantly a lot of votes get nullified.

I know that sounds tinfoily but come on. The circumstances are just too perfectly aligned for this to be a mere oversight or coincidence.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: aluminum foil hat time.

You aren’t tinfoil enough. The voter rolls were purged in the last few weeks of any voter whose information wasn’t an exact match to other databases.

But this system, as noted, could easily be hacked to create an imperfect match before the purge. There are already accusations that the imperfect matches were heavily skewed toward Democrats. And since there is no logging, we dont know if those records were changed, how they were changed, who changed them. That poison pill might already have been swallowed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: aluminum foil hat time.

You can still vote using a provisional ballot.

Quick Google came up with this:

If nothing else, a whole bunch of people who vote provisionally because they got booted from the rolls because of all that has happened in the last few weeks might give someone standing for a class-action lawsuit against the Secretary of State.

librasign says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Provisional Ballots

“…and then later claim the popular vote count was wrong and as evidence show pictures of the inaugural crowd size.”

Yes, you’re very wrong, the popular vote count is wrong!
I don’t know what you talking about, it’s must be a FAKE NEWS (CNN-Clinton News Network!)

Какой же ты козёл,тьфу!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: aluminum foil hat time.

Ehhh…this screams more to me like “cheapest contractor wins!” type of mentality. That he got something that works and will do everything he can to avoid spending any more money to fix the issue.

So all he has to do is keep the broken system until it is not his responsibility anymore, then blame the new secretary of state for the massive failure and force them to fix it with no budget. Then call himself a champion against voter fraud and securing the democracy for the future.

Now want my tinfoil hat? I fully expect that large numbers of heavily Democrat and minority precincts in Georgia, Texas, and other races to have major issues tomorrow. I expect trolls to call in bomb threats, machines to have problems connecting to servers to check voter records, and DDoS attacks on the infrastructure there. Anything to prevent the precincts from letting people vote.

Then instead of doing what is right and extend voting hours until the problem is fixed, Kemp and others like him will say “you should have voted early” and close the polls at the standard time, leaving those precincts without the ability to register votes tomorrow.

THAT is my fear and tinfoil hat.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hi. I’m here to make things worse.

Our current POTUS is gearing up to claim that any wins by Democrats are “illegitimate”—the result of voter fraud or vote hacking or some other method of cheating. He did much the same thing in the closing days of the 2016 election cycle, thinking (as a shitload of people did, myself included) that he would lose and go on to become a conservative media darling. If you think his base is fired up and pissed off now, wait until he starts saying “the Democrats cheated to win and now they’re gonna come after me”.

Anti-Partisan says:

Party names use

For articles when you need to associate people to parties because they are being stupidly partisan you should go with a similar idea as South Park did with their Turd Sandwich vs. Giant Douche mascot battle.

You can just use something like the Turd Party and the Crap Party. Then as long as you are consistent within an article it can be read. You could even stick to the same scheme but flip it back and forth between articles.

Anonymous Coward says:

After the 2000 presidential election debacle featuring the hyper partisan Republican party hack Katherine Harris pulling out all the stops to prevent any vote recount while quickly “certifying” Bush as the winner, we should have expected some major reform across the country leading to a more neutral and transparent voting oversight in the future. It’s too bad that elections are still being conducted, and votes counted, by the party in power, just as one might expect in some 3rd-world banana republic.

It’s good to see that the “red team/blue team insanity” has not infected Techdirt quite yet. All too often ostensibly non-political sites evolve into highly partisan groupthink echo chambers. The old gaming site just laid out a new official policy that states anyone in support of Donald Trump would be banned from the site. Members were still free to criticise Trump, as the site staff are doing, but kicked out the door if they present any counter-argument.

It’s almost a repeat of the ironically-named Freethoughtblog, which a few years ago kicked out people with dissenting opinions when the topic turned to “social justice” dogma.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, because someone who gets awards from the NAACP and praised by the Reverend Jessie Jackson, the guy who can SMELL racism 100 miles away through water, is so bigoted.

Ignore how he doesn’t care what bathroom transgender people use, nor how he didn’t try to overturn the gay marriage SCOTUS ruling, or how he let a homeless black woman stay in his tower for free for awhile.

Nope, all that can be ignored. He’s just a bigot, right?

Oh, right, you just don’t like the way he says stuff, how he’s against illegal immigration (he says the same things Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, etc have said about it for YEARS, he’s just willing to DO something about it).

I forgot, style over substance. I mean, it’s not like we, the voting public in the USA, have SCREAMED about wanting a politician who KEEPS HIS PROMISES for freaking DECADES or anything. And it’s not like we’ve wanted, for just as long, a President who’s NOT beholden to special interest groups or anything.

We finally got a POTUS who’s both and all I see are people going “WAAAAH! WAAAH! He’s not what I wanted! WAHHH!”

Well guess what?! People didn’t want Jesus Christ when he was alive either!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Since you invoked Jesus Christ:

Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

— Luke 14:14

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

— Luke 6:20-21

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.”

— Zechariah 7:8-10

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

— 1 John 3:17

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

— Isaiah 10:1-3

I know how I view Trump and his administrations actions, in light of these and other Biblical teachings. He’s certainly nothing like Christ.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Thanks

Matthew 15

22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Sure, she goes on to win that debate, but from the outset this is pretty much “America first”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thanks

Yah I am fairly sure this poster has no clue who Jesus is, nor do they actually know anything about the Trump presidency beyond what Trump says in his political rallies.

It seems their entire love for Trump can be boiled down to: “Finally, someone who is as openly racist and bigoted as I am!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

How the hell did this get First Word?

Moving on…

you just don’t like the way he says stuff

You mean like calling women all kinds of slurs, implying he can do whatever he wants to them, calling anyone who works in "the cyber" a 400 lb kid who lives in his parents’ basement, literally lying about independently verifiable facts on a regular basis, and not understanding anything technology or science related. Yeah, I guess I don’t like the way he says stuff.


You know there’s a running tally of how many promises he’s broken right?

NOT beholden to special interest groups or anything

ROFL LMAO!!! He’s so beholden it’s not even funny. What’s that you say? Have to save the dying, obsolete coal industry? Oh wait, who was it who signed off on striking down meaningful protections of American’s privacy on the internet? Don’t make me laugh, woops too late.

We finally got a POTUS who’s both and all I see are people going "WAAAAH! WAAAH! He’s not what I wanted! WAHHH!"

Because he is literally neither of those things and we didn’t want him from the start. If you think I personally voted for him, you’re delusional, and I would guess that most people on TD here didn’t vote for him either. Get out from under your rock and stop drinking the Trump spiked Kool-Aid.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Oh, right, you just don’t like the way he says stuff…"

That’s grossly simplistic and wildly incomplete.

"…how he’s against illegal immigration…"

He’s again non-white immigration, legal or not. It’s just easier to make the most noise about illegal immigration, even though the financial benefits significantly outweigh the negatives.

"I mean, it’s not like we, the voting public in the USA, have SCREAMED about wanting a politician who KEEPS HIS PROMISES for freaking DECADES or anything."

Still waiting.

"And it’s not like we’ve wanted, for just as long, a President who’s NOT beholden to special interest groups or anything."

Again, still waiting.

"We finally got a POTUS who’s both…"

Apart from the fact that he lies to the public over 7 times a day on average and is financially tied to the Russians, Saudis and others.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

While I personally can’t think of any valid reason to support Trump entirely (I can allow for some people agreeing with some of his policies, given I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Trump administrations policies in all realms), the problem with banning a counter-argument is that you cut yourself off from discourse. This is problematic, even if that discourse is generally invalid.

For one, if you don’t allow a counter-argument to be presented, you cannot then debunk it. Even if the debunking has no effect on the one who made the argument, the debunking can be very useful for the edification of those who are watching, and might otherwise be convinced by the debunked argument.

For two, if you don’t allow a counter-argument, you weaken your own ability to present convincing arguments. You won’t know what those who disagree with your views are saying. If one analogizes political discourse to a form of warfare, to completely disallow counter-arguments is to cut yourself off from critical intelligence.

For three, if you don’t allow a counter-argument, you weaken your own arguments. This is tied to two and one, really – the inability to know the counter-arguments and debunk them leads to an ossification of your own arguments. It leads to straw-manning the opposition – in the absence of legitimate presentation of the dissenting views, you will inevitably present your own, pale interpretation of what those dissenting views are – the Straw Man. This weakens your ability to argue your case if you ever wind up in a situation where you actually have to. You’ll possibly find that the arguments you had address things that weren’t at issue.

For four, those who disallow dissenting opinions will cut themselves off from the undecided as well. Those who don’t know what to think yet, for whatever reason, will see this exclusionism, and it will affect their thinking of the place. If they are not looking for an echo chamber, they will turn away – if those who disagree with you are more open than you are, they are more likely to attract these same people. Openness to discourse, willingness to consider the possibility (however remote) that you may be wrong, and the desire to foster open discourse attracts actual thinkers. If you care about your views, you should care about attracting people to them. Fostering open discourse does this.

I’m sure it would be possible to continue with reasons to always allow a counter-argument, but honestly, these reasons above are sufficient for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It’s not that people need to hear the counter-argument to "fuck white supremacy" – it’s that people to need hear the counter-counter-argument.

Let’s go ahead and Godwin it:

If there are people who hold Nazi ideals, I want them to speak and I want to hear them speak. This way I know who they are, and I can warn others about them.

If what they have to say is visible to all, then they cannot say they did not say it. I can point at what at they themselves put out there, tell others why it is a lie, break down their arguments, and help keep them from leading others astray.

If I shut down their visible platform for this, they will find a less visible one, and I will not know what they are doing, or who they are talking to. If I don’t know what they are doing or who they are talking to, I cannot move to counter them.

If they are my enemy, I need to know what they are doing, or I am blind and lost in my attempts to fight them.

Additionally, if I shut down their view, if I deny them a voice, they can cry foul, and play the part of the martyr. They can use my unwillingness to allow them a voice to garner sympathy. They can turn my actions to their benefit.

If I let them speak, let them be heard, and then tear what they say apart, there was no foul play. It is all there to be seen. And the onlookers will see that.

I can’t stop the Nazis from speaking everywhere. I can debunk their bullshit. Let them speak where I can hear them, and where I can respond. Let me not forget that they exist, and therefore are a problem. Let me not grow complacent in an echo chamber of my own, thereby fail to act when I should.

Shine the light on foulness and let it be heard and understood for what it is. Then call it what it is, and let that be heard by everyone as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The problem is you are assuming they are arguing in good faith. Far too often the Nazis, bigots, and others spewing their hate on the internet would love for you to waste your time countering their arguments. They would be happy to send you on a wild goose chase that requires hours of research to debunk. Then they will just switch to something entirely different when they reply to you. They love moving goalposts and have no problem doing it.

When everything is over they will just create a new post spewing the exact same hatred as the day before, ignoring all of your hard work.

I’m not saying don’t engage. I think “don’t feed the trolls” is exactly why we are in the mess we are. That idea has lead to the bigots getting their fingers into the young teens. What I am saying is don’t engage them on their terms. Don’t engage them on their arguments. You control the conversation. You control the talking points. Make them do the work and educate the masses about their stupidity that way. Make the bigots look stupid when they can’t answer your questions. You do less work and still win.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.

Jean Paul-Sartre’s words should cut you to the bone, for your stance would give anti-Semites, racists, and other bigots a place in which to play. You would also throw open the Overton Window for their ideological propositions; the more you consider their stances as “worthy of debate” or exposure in the public sphere, the more you open the window for them to sneak their positions into the mainstream until whoops, we have a raging bigot who barely conceals his racism sitting in the powerful public service position in this country.

If you truly want to take down such vileness, you do not simply “let them speak” or do the job of “debunking” by saying “this is bad”. You provide as much context as is necessary for their comments, allow experts to share their knowledge on the matter (if applicable), and—most importantly—refuse to just give extremists a platform from which they can yell without any meaningful pushback. (Speaking of which: Hi, New York Times! Got any more “Heartland Nazis” you want to interview?)

Never treat the heinous ideologies of bigots as valid political perspectives. “Hitler was right to gas the Jews” or “America was right to forcibly—and sometimes secretly—sterilize Black people” do not now, nor will they ever, deserve a place at the table of “valid propositions what deserve a robust debate”. The bigots want you to give them that place at the table; you have no obligation to pull out a chair.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

From the reporting, it appears that the vulnerability is the kind of mistake that was common on the web two decades ago, that once you’ve logged in you can access anyone else’s content just by changing the URL. Basically anyone with any degree of knowledge of online security learned to block such a vulnerability at least a decade or more ago. It is astounding that such a vulnerability might still exist online, let alone on something as vital and key to democracy as a state election system.

Wow… that’s literally the kind of story that Techdirt has written about companies getting prosecutors to go after people for reporting for CFAA violations.

That kind of incompetence should be criminally illegal for how badly you’re handling confidential data.

Also now that this is in the public, there’s literally nothing to stop someone from quickly writing a bot to modify the voter registration for literally everyone in Georgia. Including cancelling it.

Or maybe because Kemp’s security is so bad it’s possible to just use SQL Injection to delete EVERY Georgian from the voter roll. Or worse yet, delete the entire roll of Georgia voters from one political party but not the other. No need to make a bot that way, it would literally be just a line or two of SQL queries. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause on election day? They’d pretty much have to cancel or redo the election.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They’d pretty much have to cancel or redo the election.

Depends on who was deleted. If it was the GOP voters? Kemp would do everything in his power to have a special election or mysteriously produce a backup of the voter data that they are able to instantly use to see all registered GOP voters (but whoops, looks like all Democrats have not been preserved and must re-register to vote…and ohh sorry….registration for this election ended weeks ago).

If it was anyone else? Kemp would likely tell folks he will "look into the matter, but he does not want to delay democracy moving forward" and call the election for himself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That is exactly what one of my relatives did.

His reasoning: So he is less likely to be purged from the rolls (He lives in one of the hotly contested states) and so he could vote for moderate Republicans in the primaries. that way in case the democrat does loose, at least the state won’t be run by a crazy racist.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

My point was that if someone hypothetically removed over 50% of the state from the voter rolls it would de-legitimize the entire process (especially if literally everyone under specific party designations were thrown off the rolls).

Even if ‘your guy’ wins in that scenario, the massive fraud through disenfranchisement would mean that even the winner’s own supporters wouldn’t think the election was legitimate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would absolutely and unarguable de-legitimize the process. In any sane state, they would require a special election and install a more secure process. I think everything we have seen, Georgia is not run by politicians who are playing fair.

I think you have too much faith that the people in power (and the people voting for that person in power) would act in good faith to preserve an honest process if they were the ones who favoured in the disenfranchisement.

Would Kemp be sued if he continued with securing the election for himself if there was uncontestable evidence that massive fraud occurred that gave him the election? no question. Would he fight it all the way to the supreme court? Also no question.

Would his supports stand side by side with him the entire way? I think the massive support for Trump even today would show that when it comes to the GOP, party always comes before country (or State).

I genuinely think that a majority of the people who voted for Kemp would think the election was legitimate, even if there was proof that fraud was the only reason he won. They would rationalize it away as “better him than the socialists”.

This is all anecdotal (so worthless as a representative sample) but the hard-line GOP voters in my office talk exactly this way.

I also believe the same for Democrats. The politics of this nation are so heavily divided that “my guy won, I don’t care how” is all too many cares about.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Georgia is not run by politicians who are playing fair.

In fairness, Republicans love doing this sort of thing no matter where they hold such power. They disenfranchise voters with (among other tactics) purges, Voter ID laws, the closing of polling places, the cutting of early voting hours, and the gerrymandering of voting districts along partisan lines. A question comes to mind when I hear about such news: “If voting never changed anything, why do they want to make voting so damn hard to do?”

(And before you get into the whataboutism: Show me where Democrat lawmakers do these sorts of things as often and as broadly as Republican lawmakers, and I will concede to a “but both sides” argument.)

From where I sit, such tactics reek of a “gotta keep my power” kind of desperation—the kind you see when you know your ideas cannot win over voters. If Kemp truly believed he could win in a fair contest, he would have recused himself from his position as soon as he announced his campaign.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The pinnacle of class

Running in a race where he’s one of the people in charge of counting votes.

Notified of a major security flaw that could lead to massive voter fraud in the form of removed/changed votes, he decides to blame the opposing party and claimed that they ‘hacked’ the system.

Either of those two should be grounds to vote for his opposition for anyone in that area, with both you’d either have to have abysmal standards and/or a raging hatred of the democrats such that you don’t care what ‘your guy’ does so long as he doesn’t have a (D) before his name come voting day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The pinnacle of class

a raging hatred of the democrats such that you don’t care what ‘your guy’ does so long as he doesn’t have a (D) before his name

This should automatically cancel that voter’s registration regardless of the letter, i.e. D, R, etc. Voting the party ticket is the worst thing a voter can do (a non-voter isn’t a voter).

dickeyrat says:

Brian Kemp is doing everything he can to take Georgia to the depths of the low-rent third-world banana-republic, with some tutorial help from the Soviet Book of Fair Electioneering. Recall, this is the klutz who did the TV spots, featuring him holding a shotgun on the poor kid trying to date his daughter. This kid was nervous as a cat, during his life-shot (no pun intended) at TV stardom; obviously anyone who thinks about courting this idiot’s daughter has an active death wish.

Queex (profile) says:

Very probably already exploited

Someone I know, from Georgia but resident outside the US, went to check the address they needed to send his postal vote to on Saturday only to discover that, according to the website, they were no longer registered to vote. This, despite having the postal ballot already in their hands.

I would be extremely surprised if voter suppression hadn’t already been performed using this vulnerability. Who would be in a better position to know about the vulnerability than Kemp’s own team?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Georgia Election Results

It appear that Kemp won. While there were numerous legal concerns (do your own search ‘Georgia Election Issues’, there are too many returns and not many after the fact analysises) one wonders how much his ‘claims’ made a difference. At least on Fedral Judge reinstated some 3,000 voters. How many didn’t know about that suit? How many others were disenfranchised due to Kemps medling? He only won by about 60,000+ votes. How many didn’t get to vote?

Now, I am not from Georgia, and have never lived there, but I do care about the process. When candidates get to meddle in the process, things are scewed up.

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