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Georgia's Republican candidate for governor, who also happens to be in charge of running Georgia's election, announced Sunday that he was "investigating" Georgia's Democratic Party for supposedly trying to hack the state's election systems. (Those would be the computer systems he has previously said couldn't possibly be compromised, at least if Russia were doing it.) Now, if you want to get all picky about it, the reality is that Democrats alerted Kemp's office to a security problem in his computer systems, and then he turned around and accused them of "hacking," which really is some impressive fuckery, isn't it?

Kemp's office announced the alleged investigation with a very subtle all-caps headline: "AFTER FAILED HACKING ATTEMPT, SOS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY." And then of course the office briefed the press on all the evidence that would warrant such a serious accusation two days before the election, haha we are kidding of course.


What pretty quickly became clear, however, was that Kemp's office was accusing Democrats of "hacking" because they had called attention to a potential security problem with the state's voter registration systems, as the Washington Post explains:

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said in an interview that Democrats were in possession of an email with script attached to it that, if launched, could have been used to extract personal voter registration data."

Our position is that these were failed attempts to hack the system," Broce said. "All the evidence indicates that, and we're still looking into it."

Democratic officials, in turn, accused Kemp of "defamatory accusations" and released the email in question, showing that it had been forwarded to a Democratic volunteer by someone not affiliated with the party who was flagging a potential data vulnerability. The volunteer forwarded the email to the party's voter protection director, who shared it with cybersecurity experts, who in turn alerted Kemp's office, they said.

Got that? Someone sent the Dems information about a possible security problem, the volunteer who got the email sent it to an appropriate higher-up, who then had cyber people look at it and take the evidence to to the authorities.

Then the Secretary of State's office accused the people trying to warn about the problem of hacking the election! If Brian Kemp is elected governor, expect witnesses to bank robberies to be accused of being in on the plot, because how else would they know so much about the robbery, huh?

Is there more? Of course there's more! Turns out others have been trying to call attention to the security vulnerabilities too:

Two voting rights attorneys suggested that Kemp launched the probe as a distraction, hours after they told authorities about potential security flaws in the electronic voter systems he is responsible for maintaining.

"We alerted the authorities. We expected Mr. Kemp to take action. We were surprised to see the apparent response to that was accusing [the Democrats] of hacking," David D. Cross, a Washington attorney who is helping sue Georgia to make it use paper ballots, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

This sort of shit is nothing new for Kemp, of course: As Wired and Gizmodo both note, Kemp accused the Department of Homeland Security of trying to "hack" Georgia computers in 2016 when in fact a DHS investigation turned up only examples of routine computer traffic. When it comes to actually improving computer security, frankly my dear, Kemp doesn't give a damn.

If you're really hot on getting all the cyber details, they're outlined by WhoWhatWhy, which explains the nature of the security hole:

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 article goes on to say several security experts said the registration website code -- which is publicly viewable with any browser's tools -- definitely looked insecure, although of course they didn't test that because doing so would be illegal. Here's one very astonished geek:

"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."

So Kemp's office rewarded the Dems for their vigilance in protecting the integrity of the vote by accusing them of being evil hackers. Isn't that beautiful? University of California Irvine law school professor and political scientist Richard Hasen writes at Slate,

If this is true, it doesn't show Democrats "hacking" to manipulate election results. It shows Democrats, like many others, pointing out the glaring security flaws in Georgia's voting system. To turn this around and blame Democrats is an act of political chutzpah by an election official on par with nothing else I've seen.

Once the blatant fuckery on the part of Kemp's office became clear, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams wrote in a statement, "Kemp's false accusations against the Democratic Party of Georgia were nothing more than a pathetic attempt to cover up for his failures," which if you ask us is putting it mildly.

And Kemp's campaign? The bastards tried once again to say they had saved Georgians from some dangerous bad behavior by Democrats, who -- as power-hungry radicals will -- brought the problem to the attention of the authorities:

Ryan Mahoney, Mr. Kemp's campaign spokesman, said in a statement late Sunday that the effort to "expose vulnerabilities" in the voter system was an "act of desperation" by Democrats.

"This was a 4th quarter Hail Mary pass that was intercepted in the end zone," he said. "Thanks to the systems and protocols established by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, no personal information was breached. These power-hungry radicals should be held accountable for their criminal behavior."

Translation: We don't know how to do computer security, but we sure do know how to slime people. Also, everything we know about politics we learned from our Labrador retriever, who assures us she was guarding the meatloaf that somehow ended up on the floor. Or half of it.

Brian Kemp is scum, and his people are scum. Georgia, please vote these bastards out, and for fuckssake elect Democrat John Barrow as the next Secretary of State. Foxes shouldn't be watching the henhouse, and they sure as hell shouldn't be designing the damn thing.

[WaPo / Slate / WhoWhatWhy / Wired]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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