Geor­gia elec­tions chief plans changes af­ter se­cu­rity is­sues

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NATION | WORLD - BY KATH­LEEN FOODY

AT­LANTA — Geor­gia’s top elec­tions of­fi­cial stood out by re­fus­ing help from the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity last Au­gust amid na­tional con­cerns about the in­tegrity of U.S. elec­tions.

Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Brian Kemp called it an at­tempted fed­eral takeover and in­sisted his of­fice was al­ready pro­tect­ing Geor­gia’s vote from hack­ers.

That stance earned him na­tional me­dia cov­er­age ahead of his cam­paign for gover­nor. But Kemp’s as­sur­ances threat­ened to be­come a li­a­bil­ity af­ter new de­tails emerged last month about ma­jor se­cu­rity mis­takes at the cen­ter man­ag­ing Geor­gia’s elec­tion tech­nol­ogy. It turns out that the con­trac­tor left crit­i­cal data wide open for months on the in­ter­net, and that for the sec­ond time un­der Kemp’s ten­ure, the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of ev­ery Geor­gia voter was ex­posed.

With his crit­ics de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity, Kemp an­nounced Fri­day that he plans to bring the cen­ter’s op­er­a­tions in-house within a year. His brief state­ment made no men­tion of the se­cu­rity flaws, say­ing “the ever-chang­ing land­scape of tech­nol­ogy de­mands that we change with it.”

“The Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice is equipped, trained, and tested to han­dle th­ese op­er­a­tions in-house. I am con­fi­dent that this move will en­sure Geor­gia con­tin­ues to have se­cure, ac­ces­si­ble, and fair elec­tions for years to come,” his state­ment said.

Geor­gia ef­fec­tively out­sourced man­age­ment of the touch-screen vot­ing ma­chines it adopted statewide 15 years ago to the cen­ter, which earned $792,000 in its most re­cent an­nual con­tract. The new, $815,000 con­tract Kemp an­nounced Fri­day calls for mov­ing that work to the Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice by June 30, 2018.

Brian Kemp

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