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Georgia AG’s office closes probe of alleged attempted hack of voter registration system

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The Georgia state attorney general’s office said Monday it has ended its investigation into the alleged hacking of Georgia’s voter registration system in 2018.

“While the evidence in this case properly gave rise to concerns that were appropriately address to law enforcement, the investigation did not reveal any evidence to support … criminal prosecution,” the office said Monday in an investigative report.

The investigation into what then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office characterized as an attempted hack was announced two days before the November 2018 gubernatorial election in which Kemp was the Republican candidate. Kemp went on to win the election over Democrat Stacey Abrams in a close race.

In series of emails, the secretary of state’s office, then run by Kemp, said led it to accuse the Georgia Democratic Party of hacking its voter registration system. The emails refer to findings by a voter who said he had discovered potential vulnerabilities in the state’s voter information page and its online registration system.

The voter took his concerns to the Georgia Democratic Party’s voter protection hotline to alert authorities, according to his lawyer, David Cross. At the time, Cross told CNN that the voter was not affiliated with any political party and did not want to speak to any media. He also said the voter has some software background but is not a hacker.

The voter was looking up his own registration information on the state’s My Voter Page when he discovered he could access other people’s information too, Cross told CNN. The system, the voter found, doesn’t verify who’s making the query and, for that reason, it appeared to him that voters’ private information could be accessed and voter registrations could even be edited by anyone on the site.

The voter went over his concerns with Cross, who has battled with Kemp over similar issues before, including a 2016 lawsuit that alleged cybersecurity vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voting system. Unclear on the implications of what the voter had found, Cross brought in a cybersecurity firm to look at the website. While that firm couldn’t verify the vulnerability either, it too saw a potential for concern, Cross told CNN.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s probe concluded that there was no evidence of damage to the secretary of state’s network or computers and no evidence of theft, damage, or loss of data.

Georgia Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikema Williams called the investigation “a sham from the start” in a statement Monday.

“Since the beginning of this whole process, Georgia Democrats have made it clear that our priority is to protect the integrity of Georgia’s democracy, while Brian Kemp and his administration have stopped at nothing to chop it down,” Williams said.

She added: “Georgia Democrats will continue to do everything in our power to fight back against voter suppression, protect and expand our voter rolls, and put Georgia’s voters first. We look forward to continuing this most important work, and we will help Georgia voters hold Brian Kemp, his lies, and his Republican allies accountable at the ballot box.”

CNN is reaching out to Kemp’s office and the secretary of state’s office for comment on the attorney general’s office’s findings.

This story has been updated with comment from the Georgia Democratic Party.

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