Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is no longer the state’s chief election official — but his combative style in defending its insecure voting technology lives on.
Fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, Kemp’s successor as secretary of state, has been pursuing the same approach to the job since taking over in January: Ignore election security experts and malign any advice coming from Washington.
Raffensperger and his staff are pushing ahead with a $150 million plan to switch the state to new voting machines that an array of experts warn would be susceptible to hacking. He’s dismissed critics of the devices — including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — as fringe figures. And his deputy recently scolded the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks, which also opposes the machines, by saying its Georgia-born and -based top policy executive doesn’t understand how things work in the state.
For activists and security experts, Georgia’s rush to buy the machines reflects a disheartening consistency. Many critics of the state’s approach to election security had hoped for a fresh start after the past few years, when Georgia gained national attention for rebuking federal officials over cybersecurity concerns.
As secretary of state, Kemp consistently blasted the Obama administration for its approach to the issue and falsely alleged that first the Department of Homeland Security and then the Georgia Democratic Party tried to hack his office.
Raffensperger’s Kemp-like posture has infuriated election security experts.
With Crossover Day hoopla past, look for Republicans in the state Capitol to accelerate passage of House Bill 316, the measure that would authorize $150 million for the purchase of a new touch-screen voting machine system.
The bill passed out of the Senate Ethics Committee on Wednesday, and could quickly come up for a floor vote. Senate Republicans have two reasons for greasing the skids. First, there are the logistics associated with getting an entirely new system up and running in time for the 2020 election cycle.
But there’s another reason: Democrats as well as others who demand a system auditable by human eye-sight rather than machines are beginning to coalesce in opposition.