- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia’s secretary of state said Thursday that his office will offer a year of free credit monitoring, more than two weeks after a lawsuit revealed that nearly 6.2 million voters’ personal information had been released to media and political parties.

Brian Kemp said his office will contract with CSID, the firm still working with South Carolina after tax information for 6.4 million individuals and businesses was hacked from the state’s Department of Revenue in 2012. According to Kemp’s office, the monitoring will cost the state $1.2 million.

Kemp has said his office destroyed 12 discs that contained all registered voters’ Social Security and drivers’ license numbers and dates of birth. At least one person who regularly received the discs containing a statewide voter database told The Associated Press that he threw the October copy away before being asked to return it and learning about the personal information contained.

Kemp’s office regularly sends an updated list of all registered voters in the state to political parties and news media organizations as required by Georgia law. The state sells the file to others. It is only supposed to include a voter’s name, residence, mailing address, race, gender, registration date and last voting date.

“I am confident that all personal information is safe and secure,” Kemp said in Thursday’s written statement. “However, I believe Georgia voters deserve peace of mind regarding this incident. We are continuing our internal investigation and have hired Deloitte to conduct an independent audit of all of our IT operations. Georgians have my word this will not happen again.”

Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, criticized Kemp’s “mixed message.”

“He’s saying there’s nothing to worry about yet he’s having taxpayers pay $1.2 million to provide credit monitoring,” Holcomb said. “His handling of this matter is a case study in what not to do.”

Kemp’s spokesman said the Deloitte audit will cost $395,000, and funds will come paid from a reserve account within the office.

Kemp has said a technology employee didn’t follow office rules and has been fired.

Kemp’s office has denied a request from AP for documents and records on the data release, citing an exemption for open investigations in Georgia’s Open Records Act.

The League of Women Voters of Georgia this week asked Gov. Nathan Deal to order an independent investigation, calling the breach “an obvious threat to the voter registration process.” Deal told media outlets that he wouldn’t intervene.

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Online: www.sos.ga.gov

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