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Hearing set for last minute federal suit filed to stop Kemp from overseeing election

Five Georgia voters are hopeful that an emergency federal injunction will take Brian Kemp out of the role of overseeing the election process.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ATLANTA -- An emergency lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta by five voters at 5 p.m. Tuesday asking that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp be prevented from exercising any further influence over the 2018 general election.

In addition to his state position as secretary, Kemp is also the Republican nominee for governor who is leading in initial election results.

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Georgia voters -- LaTosha Brown, Jennifer Ide and Katherine Wilkinson of Fulton County, Candace Fowler of DeKalb County and Chalis Montgormery of Barrow County.

The lawsuit said the concept of a candidate for governor also being charged with "fairly administering the state's elections" is something that "violates a basic notion of fairness -- that a man should not be a judge in his own matter."

The suit pointed to the vulnerability of Georgia's election system to electronic intrusion and hacking as noted by individuals on a number of occasions.

On at least two occasions, the personal data of up to six million Georgia voters was compromised. This resulted in the secretary of state's office having to provide credit monitoring services at no cost to those affected.

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In 2016, Kemp's office was offered assistance by the federal Department of Homeland Security to provide cyber-security resources during the 2016 election season. Kemp declined the assistance.

In the interim, Kemp's office has neglected to upgrade or provide additional cyber-security resources for Georgia's election system.

Stacey Abrams speech on election night

Brian Kemp speech on election night

The lawsuit also pointed to an incident last weekend when election security experts notified federal authorities along with staffers for the secretary of state's office and the Democratic Party of Georgia of a major security flaw.

Instead of addressing the concern directly, according to the federal suit, Kemp's office, without evidence, accused the Democratic Party of Georgia of computer crimes and launched an investigation of the Democrats over the weekend prior to the general election.

►Georgia election results: Click here

The federal suit said that Kemp's actions appeared to have been taken by Kemp as both secretary of state and as candidate for governor.

"In fewer than three paragraphs, this press release referenced actions taken both by Defendant Kemp as Secretary of State and by Defendant Kemp as a candidate, underscoring the inherent conflict of his roles in this particular circumstance," the suit said.

According to the suit, this is not the first time that Kemp has sought to use the auspices of his his office for political advantage in a campaign, pointing to the purging of voters from the state's voter rolls between 2012 and 2018 as well as this year's holding of up to 53,000 voter registrations based on an "exact match" protocol. In early November, a federal judge ordered Kemp's office to stop using the "exact match" protocol, permitting the thousands of voter registrations to be allowed for the 2018 election.

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Along with a temporary restraining order, the plaintiffs in the case have asked for a preliminary injunction. They also have asked for the court to award them attorney's fees.

The hearing will be at 9:45 a.m. in Courtroom 1705 at the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Downtown.

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