Brian Kemp

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Brian Kemp
27th Secretary of State of Georgia
Assumed office
January 8, 2010
Governor Sonny Perdue
Nathan Deal
Preceded by Karen Handel
Personal details
Born (1963-11-02) November 2, 1963 (age 54)
Athens, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marty Argo
Education University of Georgia (BS)

Brian P. Kemp (born November 2, 1963) is the 27th and current Secretary of State of the U.S. State of Georgia. Kemp succeeded Karen Handel on January 8, 2010, when she stepped down to run in the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election.

Kemp previously had served as a Georgia State Senator from 2002 to 2006 after defeating the Democratic incumbent. Kemp won the 2010 election for a full term as Georgia Secretary of State with 56.4% to 39.4% for his Democratic opponent, Georganna Sinkfield.[1] In 2014, Kemp was re-elected.

On March 31, 2017, Kemp announced his candidacy in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.

Personal life[edit]

Brian Kemp is a lifelong resident of Athens who is married and has 3 children. He attended Clarke Central High School and the University of Georgia, where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. He along with his family are also active members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens.[2]


Brian Kemp is an active small business owner today with companies involved in agribusiness, financial services, and real estate management and investment.

Georgia election server[edit]

On July 3, 2017 the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) alongside six Georgia voters filed suit against Brian Kemp on allegations that he and members of the Georgia State Elections Board allowed uncertified and compromised election systems to be used in the 2016 General Election and the June 20, 2017 Special Runoff.[3]  The lawsuit claims that Kemp, in his capacity as Secretary of State, rebuffed multiple requests by Georgian electors mandating him under GA Code § 21-2-379.2  to reexamine Georgia’s outdated electronic voting systems, and if need be, decertify those machines that could “no longer be safely or accurately used by electors at primaries or elections [...]  because of any problem concerning its ability to accurately record or tabulate".[4] Despite direct warnings that elements of the state voting system was vulnerable to exploitation, CGG claims that Kemp nonetheless allowed the compromised voting machines to be used in state elections going forward, ignoring a pending request for reexamination ahead of the 2017 Runoff.

Concerns about Georgia’s election integrity was brought to light in August 2016, when security researcher Logan Lamb discovered a vulnerability in the Kennesaw State University Center for Election Systems public website.[5]  For the past 15 years, Georgia’s voting infrastructure had been overseen and maintained by KSU’s Center for Elections Systems which deployed Direct Electronic Recording (DRE), antiquated touchscreen machines with known security exploits and unverifiable voting logs during elections.[6] According to Lamb, KSU’s Center for Elections Systems had “misconfigured” its servers giving possible attackers access to the center’s root directories without logging in. Using an automated script, Lamb was able to download 15 GBs of data containing sensitive voter information. The latter included the "database of registration records for Georgia’s 6.7 million voters, multiple documents with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to on Election Day, software files for the state’s ExpressPoll pollbook" (a voter verification system) and access to the State’s Global Election Management Systems (GEMS) used to “prepare paper and electronic ballots, tabulate votes and produce summaries of vote totals”.[5]  The scope of the vulnerability might have allowed attackers to possibly plant malware, install backdoors into election offices, alter software files distributed to voting centers, rig votes, or delete and alter voting records.[5] When Lamb notified Merle King, Executive director of CES, King reportedly threatened him, stating that if he talked, “the people downtown, the politicians … would crush” Lamb.[3]  The security holes were left unpatched for seven months. On March 2017, security researcher Chris Grayson, discovered yet another vulnerability on CES’s site that granted him access to the same files as Lamb.[5]  Word of the breaches reached the offices of Secretary Kemp, the Governor, and the FBI who set off internal and third party investigations. An investigation by KSU's UITS revealed that the Center for Elections Systems had been operating its networks outside the scope of both the University and the Secretary of State’s office for years, hosted data on unsecured servers, and utilized unpatched versions of Drupal vulnerable to exploitation.[7]

Prior to the 2016 general elections, the Department of Homeland Security had offered to assess Georgia’s voting systems for vulnerabilities.[8] Kemp declined the offer suggesting that the Federal Government was “federalizing elections under the guise of security”.[9] Georgia was one of seven states to outright decline. In the wake of a 2017 DNI assessment on Russian meddling, some states such as Virginia opted to decertify DREs for elections, citing concern of “unauthorized access to the machines” and the inability for voters to verify their votes given the system’s lack of a voter-verified paper audit trail.[10]  Hitting back against allegations of inadequate oversight of Georgia’s election system, Kemp on July 2, 2017 submitted an op-ed to USA Today blaming the media for developing "false narratives about Russian hacking and potential vulnerabilities in the system” where “the prevailing plot line is that states like Georgia can't provide suitable security for elections".[11]  He concluded that states were doing enough to keep elections secure, and that "Anything to the contrary is fake news".[11] On October 26, 2017, the Associated Press reported that technicians at KSU’s Center for Elections Systems had destroyed the server’s data using DBAN on July 7 2017, four days after the Coalition for Good Governance had filed its lawsuit against Kemp and Georgia election officials.[12] It is unclear who ordered the destruction of the data despite KSU’s Center for Elections Systems answering to Kemp’s office. In the wake of the debacle, Kemp maintains that “Despite the undeniable ineptitude at KSU’s Center for Elections Systems […] Georgia’s elections are safe and our systems remain secure”.[13] An exact data image of the server is said to be in the custody of the FBI when it opened its investigation in March 2017.[12] On November 1, 2017, Georgia's assistant State Attorney General Cristina Correia notified the court that her office was withdrawing from the case and would no longer be representing the state's top election officials.[14]

Electoral history[edit]

Georgia State Senate 46th District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 17,504 50.7
Democratic Doug Haines (inc.) 17,015 49.3
Georgia Secretary of State Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 361,304 59.2
Republican Doug MacGinnitie 248,911 40.8
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 1,440,188 56.4
Democratic Georganna Sinkfield 1,006,411 39.4
Libertarian David Chastain 106,123 4.2
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp (inc.) 1,452,554 57.47
Democratic Doreen Carter 1,075,101 42.53


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Curling V. Kemp et al" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "2016 Georgia Code :: Title 21 - Elections :: Chapter 2 - Elections and Primaries Generally :: Article 9 - Voting Machines and Vote Recorders Generally :: Part 5 - Electronic Recording Voting Systems :: § 21-2-379.2. Review of manufacturer's recording electronic voting system by Secretary of State; appointment and compensation of examiners; revocation of approval; penalties; conflicts of interest". Justia Law. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  6. ^ "DEFCON Hackers Found Many Holes in Voting Machines and Poll Systems". IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  7. ^ "Kennesaw State UITS Information Security Office Assessment". 
  8. ^ Breland, Ali (2016-08-26). "State declines DHS security for voting machines". TheHill. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  9. ^ "Ahead of elections, states reject federal help to combat hackers". Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  10. ^ "Virginia Decertifies DRE Machines | Election Academy". Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  11. ^ a b "States keep our elections secure". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  12. ^ a b "APNewsBreak: Georgia election server wiped after suit filed". AP News. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  13. ^ "Kemp starts probe after data on Georgia election computer destroyed". myajc. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 
  14. ^ News, ABC. "Georgia attorney general quits defense in server wiping case". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-11-02. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Karen Handel
Secretary of State of Georgia