Georgia Democrats sue Kemp, spokeswoman over 2018 hacking accusations

The Democratic Party of Georgia has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Brian Kemp and members of his staff in connection with claims made days ahead of the 2018 election for governor, which Kemp won by 1.4 percentage points over Democrat Stacey Abrams, that the party hacked into the state’s voting registration systems. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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The Democratic Party of Georgia has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Brian Kemp and members of his staff in connection with claims made days ahead of the 2018 election for governor, which Kemp won by 1.4 percentage points over Democrat Stacey Abrams, that the party hacked into the state’s voting registration systems. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The Democratic Party of Georgia has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Brian Kemp and members of his staff in connection with 2018 pre-election claims that the party attempted to hack the state’s voting registration systems.

The claim came two days before the election, when Kemp, a Republican, was serving as Georgia’s secretary of state and overseeing his own heated election for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp went on to defeat Abrams by 55,000 votes, a margin of 1.4 percentage points.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office announced 18 months later that it found no evidence of a hack and closed the investigation Kemp had launched.

A spokesman for Kemp declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In the suit, filed Wednesday, the Democratic Party is asking a court to determine Kemp’s office broke the law, require the secretary of state’s office to remove a press release about the hacking accusations from its website and award the party no more than $20 in damages — a symbolic amount.

ExploreCase files discredit Kemp’s accusation that Democrats tried to hack Georgia election

The lawsuit accuses Kemp, then-spokeswoman Candice Broce and 10 other unnamed people of violating the federal Voting Rights Act and attempting to intimidate and deter Democrats from voting.

“Here, on the eve of the gubernatorial election, defendants chose to accuse — without an iota of evidence — the Democratic Party of Georgia of unspecified ‘cyber crimes,’ ” attorneys for the Democratic Party wrote in the filing. “They did so less than forty-eight hours before election day on the secretary of state’s own website where voters go to review sample ballots, find their polling location, or check their registration.”

An investigation by the attorney general’s office found there was no indication that the party probed the secretary of state’s websites for weaknesses.

The party brought potential vulnerabilities to the attention of election officials, only to find itself accused of tampering, the lawsuit said.

Earlier this year, the Republican attorney general and Broce both said Kemp’s office did the right thing by asking law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and GBI, to investigate.

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