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Part 2‑Raffensperger and Kemp Cannot Be Trusted in 2024 Elections


Kemp’s SAFE Commission Recommendations Never Made it Into Law

JUL 18, 2023

In Part 1 of this series, we estab­lished a frame­work to begin under­stand­ing the recent changes (since 2018) in the Geor­gia elec­tion sys­tem and why they were changed, at least osten­si­bly. For 15 years pri­or to 2018, the elec­tion sys­tem ran out of the Geor­gia Cen­ter for Elec­tion Sys­tems locat­ed at Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­si­ty. In 2018, Sec­re­tary of State Bri­an Kemp changed all that. Kemp closed down the Ken­ne­saw oper­a­tion and installed a new oper­a­tion to run under the direct con­trol of the Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State. In doing so, Bri­an Kemp put him­self over­see­ing his own next election. 


An impor­tant rea­son for the Geor­gia elec­tion sys­tem oper­at­ing under the aus­pices of Ken­ne­saw State was for the elec­tion sys­tem to main­tain “an arms-length work­ing rela­tion­ship with the Sec­re­tary of State and the ven­dor, ensur­ing both inde­pen­dence and objec­tiv­i­ty in its work.” Main­tain­ing an arm’s length between an elec­tion sys­tem and any can­di­date, espe­cial­ly the can­di­date in charge of the elec­tion sys­tem, he being the Sec­re­tary of State, seems pret­ty impor­tant from this seat. But, after the changes by then Sec­re­tary of State Bri­an Kemp in 2017, Geor­gia elec­tions have been whol­ly admin­is­tered and super­vised by a polit­i­cal office hold­er elect­ed under the very sys­tem he him­self per­son­al­ly super­vis­es and con­trols. That’s not good. 

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Just before mak­ing the change to bring the elec­tion oper­a­tions under the full con­trol of the Sec­re­tary of State, Kemp expressed out­rage regard­ing alledged poten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties at the KSU Cen­ter for Elec­tions Cen­ter (CES), espe­cial­ly the wip­ing of data from the sys­tem, post­ing on Facebook, 

Cit­ing “reck­less behav­ior” and a deci­sion “to wipe the com­pro­mised serv­er” as the very rea­sons for end­ing the SOS con­tract with CES, Kemp added that his office had opened an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion, and that, “Those respon­si­ble at KSU should be held account­able for their actions.” He char­ac­ter­ized the work at CES as “unde­ni­able ineptitude.”

Yet, a week lat­er, Kemp’s legal coun­sel Ryan Ger­many (you remem­ber his name because he was the one on Raffensperger’s phone call with Trump after the 2020 elec­tion) cleared the the CES direc­tor against any wrong-doing in allow­ing the data to be wiped, stat­ing very sim­ply the data destruc­tion was noth­ing oth­er that stan­dard pro­ce­dure, Voter­GA report­ing in the Geor­gia Elec­tions Data Destruc­tion Audit,

“Through­out his posts, Sec­re­tary Kemp expressed anger at those actions by UITS and CES. He called the actions “reck­less behav­ior,” “inex­cus­able con­duct,” “gross incom­pe­tence” and “unde­ni­able inep­ti­tude.” Almost imme­di­ate­ly, the Attor­ney Gen­er­al resigned from defend­ing the Sec­re­tary in Curl­ing v. Kemp while cit­ing a con­flict among the Defen­dants. By Mon­day, Octo­ber 30, Sec­re­tary Kemp’s legal coun­sel, Ryan Ger­many, pro­duced a report stat­ing that the elec­tions serv­er data destruc­tion was “stan­dard procedure.”

So, as it turns out, the “reck­less behav­ior, inex­cus­able con­duct, gross incom­pe­tence and unde­ni­able inep­ti­tude,” which accord­ing to Kemp was the rea­son for clos­ing CES and mov­ing its func­tions direct­ly under his per­son­al con­trol, accord­ing to Kemp’s new attor­ney of record, Ryan Ger­many, turned out to be cer­tain elec­tion work­ers sim­ply fol­low­ing “stan­dard oper­at­ing procedure.”

And with­in a week of pub­licly humil­i­at­ing the oper­a­tion of elec­tions at the KSU CES, osten­si­bly under­tak­ing an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion, and vow­ing that heads were going to roll, instead, Sec­re­tary of State Kemp turned 180 degrees, placed a smile back on his face, and offered the indi­vid­ual most respon­si­ble for all that Kemp pre­vi­ous­ly crit­i­cized so vehe­ment­ly, offer­ing to hire that same indi­vid­ual, CES Direc­tor Michael Barnes, to run his new in-house elec­tion sys­tem at the Sec­re­tary of State’s Office, Voter­GA report­ing,

Bri­an Kemp got what he want­ed, per­son­al con­trol of the Geor­gia elec­tion sys­tem, about all else, in effect, say­ing, “Nev­er mind.”

Remem­ber what FDR told us, “In pol­i­tics, noth­ing hap­pens by chance. If it hap­pens, you can bet it was planned that way.” Why would Bri­an Kemp hire the guy he just char­ac­ter­ized to the world as, “reck­less,” “inex­cus­able,” “gross­ly incom­pe­tent” and “unde­ni­ably inept?” There is no ratio­nale, oth­er than to con­clude the events under con­sid­er­a­tion here were sole­ly designed to jus­ti­fy clos­ing the KSU CES with the idea of plac­ing its func­tions with­in the fin­ger­tips of Georgia’s Sec­re­tary of State to control. 

The Work of Brian Kemp’s “SAFE Commission”

But let’s not stop there. As we dis­cussed in Part 1, in April 2018 Sec­re­tary of State Bri­an Kemp announced the mem­bers of his new “SAFE” Com­mis­sion, which he chaired, assigned the task of “con­duct­ing thor­ough dis­cus­sions on all options – includ­ing the fea­si­bil­i­ty of using all hand-marked paper bal­lots to all elec­tron­ic machines with a vot­er-ver­i­fied paper trail – and trav­el the state to solic­it feed­back from stake­hold­ers.” “SAFE” stood for “Secure, Acces­si­ble & Fair Elec­tions.” Here in Part 2, we will look at two of the most vital SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions to see if they were actu­al­ly incor­po­rat­ed into law. 

SAFE Recommendation #1

“Geor­gia should adopt a vot­ing sys­tem with a ver­i­fi­able paper vote record. Every effort should be made to imple­ment this sys­tem statewide in time for the 2020 elec­tion. The sys­tem should cre­ate an auditable paper record for every vote that the vot­er has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to review before cast­ing. Rules should be put in place ensur­ing a rig­or­ous chain of cus­tody for these paper records, as are in place now for secu­ri­ty of paper bal­lots and mem­o­ry cards.”

HB-316 (2019), enact­ed into law in response to SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions, DOES require a “ver­i­fi­able paper record read­able by the vot­er before cast­ing.” Impor­tant­ly, how­ev­er, the law DOES NOT require an “auditable paper record for every vote that the vot­er has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to review before cast­ing.” I say that because, requir­ing an “auditable paper record that the vot­er can check before cast­ing” antic­i­pates that the paper record the vot­er checks before cast­ing would be the same record count­ed and audit­ed. The law does not require that. Instead the law left the deter­mi­na­tion of recount meth­ods to the State Board of Elec­tions, each mem­ber of which appoint­ed by, and behold­en to, the Sec­re­tary of State. 

Thus, respect­ing Rec­om­men­da­tion #1, the work Sec­re­tary of State Kemp’s SAFE Com­mis­sion under­took com­plet­ed an utter waste of time. The very pur­pose of hav­ing a vot­er check his or her selec­tions, is the expec­ta­tion that those checked selec­tions would become the data col­lect­ed by the machine and used in anyre­count effort. That require­ment did not make it into law and is not the pro­ce­dure the present bal­lot mark­ing device sys­tem under­takes. Instead, the machines in use since 2020 inter­pret QR codes which the vot­er has no way of ver­i­fy­ing pri­or to sub­mit­ting a bal­lot for scanning. 

So, who was the Chair­man of the SAFE Commission? 

Bri­an Kemp 

Who is the gov­er­nor who signed HB316 into law with­out requir­ing his own vital SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions to be incorporated? 

The same Bri­an Kemp 

Con­clu­sion: As chair­man of the SAFE Com­mis­sion, Bri­an Kemp knew pur­pose of the SAFE Com­mis­sion. He knew the SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions, yet he did not require those rec­om­men­da­tions be strict­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the law. Thus, not only can Bri­an Kemp not be trust­ed, but nei­ther can the vot­ing sys­tem he sub­se­quent­ly pur­chased pur­suant to the law he signed. 

SAFE Recommendation #7

“Geor­gia should require post-elec­tion, pre-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion audits. These audits will cer­tain­ly be time con­sum­ing and add work to coun­ty elec­tion offi­cials, but they are nec­es­sary to show trans­paren­cy and main­tain trust in the elec­tions process…Elec­tion audits should rely on a paper vote record that is eas­i­ly read­able with­out a tech­ni­cal device, should be con­duct­ed on dif­fer­ent machin­ery than Elec­tion Day tab­u­la­tion, and should be con­duct­ed publicly.”

SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tion #7 is a vital cross-check to ensure free and fair elec­tions. How­ev­er, the law Gov­er­nor Kemp signed does not require any cross-check­ing pro­vi­sion SAFE Rec­om­men­da­tion #7 advised. Post-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion audits are not required under HB316 and are per­formed entire­ly at the dis­cre­tion of the Geor­gia Board of Elec­tions, in oth­er words, the Sec­re­tary of State. There is no require­ment that a post-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion audit use any method oth­er than min­i­mal­ly run­ning the same pieces of paper back through the same scan­ning machines. 

So, once again, 

Who was the Chair­man of the SAFE Commission? 

Bri­an Kemp. 

Who is the gov­er­nor who signed HB316 into law with­out requir­ing his own vital SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions to be incorporated? 

Bri­an Kemp. 

Assem­bling the SAFE Com­mis­sion was sim­ply an act of polit­i­cal “hoop-jump­ing.” Bri­an Kemp knew what he want­ed to do with Georgia’s vot­ing sys­tem all along. Assem­bling the SAFE Com­mis­sion was not a rash deci­sion. This was a “jus­ti­fy­ing” deci­sion, nec­es­sary before the new elec­tion sys­tem could be pur­chased and deployed. Kemp used the SAFE Com­mis­sion report, writ­ten under his chair­man­ship, jus­ti­fied by the nar­ra­tive of poor work being per­formed at KSU, to accom­plish a pro­ce­dure of cre­at­ing a legal frame­work, with­in which the present bal­lot-mark­ing device elec­tion sys­tem could be pur­chased and deployed. 


I pro­vide this analy­sis to help lift the veil to under­stand what is real­ly going on in Georgia’s elec­tions. First, as we learned in Part 1, giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty pro­vid­ed by the nar­ra­tive of “reck­less behav­ior, inex­cus­able con­duct, gross incom­pe­tence and unde­ni­able inep­ti­tude,” Bri­an Kemp jus­ti­fied tak­ing all con­trol of the elec­tion process away from the dis­in­ter­est­ed 3rd par­ty run­ning Geor­gia elec­tions for the pre­vi­ous 15 years, Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­si­ty, and placed com­plete con­trol of the sys­tem under the hand of the Sec­re­tary of State and his peo­ple, allow­ing the Sec­re­tary of State vir­tu­al con­trol over not only his or her own elec­tion, but con­ceiv­ably all elec­tions in Georgia. 

Sec­ond­ly, Bri­an Kemp went to the trou­ble to assem­ble the SAFE Com­mis­sion, spend­ing tax­pay­er funds to pay those good peo­ple and to send them through­out the state to lis­ten to as many vot­ers and elec­tion offi­cials as time would allow. He bought them food and drink, paid for their lodg­ing and trans­porta­tion. And the SAFE Com­mis­sion actu­al­ly pre­formed a rea­son­able job for what it was. Why then didn’t new­ly-elect­ed Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp, for­mer­ly the chair of his own SAFE Com­mis­sion, require every SAFE Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tion to be incor­po­rat­ed into the law he signed? The only rea­son­able answer is that Bri­an Kemp did not want those rec­om­men­da­tions made law. Kemp had the pow­er and he did not use it to leg­is­late manda­to­ry safe­guards for Geor­gia elec­tions when he had the chance. Instead, he car­ried out a de fac­to fake cru­sade for free and fair elec­tions, end­ing up with what we have now. Thus, we know Bri­an Kemp can­not be trust­ed to aid in cre­at­ing any sem­blance of a free and fair elec­tion process in Georgia. 

Next, in Part 3, we will look at the process under­which the present bal­lot-mark­ing device sys­tem was select­ed, pur­chased and deployed, and con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous objec­tions to Kemp’s decision. 


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