Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Carter Center weighs launching transparency campaign for U.S. elections

Jimmy Carter stands in front of a podium inside a church

Jimmy Carter speaks to a Baptist congregation in Plains, Georgia on April 28, 2019. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

David Caroll, leader of the Carter Center's project to promote democracy in international elections, told the U.K.'s Independent on Friday that the center is weighing "direct engagement" on "U.S. election issues" for the first time.

Why it matters: Six states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Friday, alleging recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service were "unlawful" and designed to impede efforts to conduct "free and fair elections."

The big picture: Widespread delays in the USPS have prompted allegations from Democratic lawmakers that DeJoy and President Trump attempted to undermine the Postal Service ahead of the upcoming election, expected to see a record number of mail-in ballots.

  • Trump has vowed to block Democrats' demands for $3.6 billion for "universal" mail-in voting and $25 billion for the USPS in the next coronavirus stimulus package, baselessly claiming that helping voters cast ballots remotely would lead to mass voter fraud.
  • DeJoy told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Friday that he never discussed any changes to USPS policies — which he has since suspended — with the president.

What they're saying: “Until the last 10 years, we wouldn’t have thought of the U.S. in that category," Caroll told the Independent, referring to countries with “a significant potential for an important change in the quality of democracy," or where democracy is severely threatened.

  • "But it’s been increasingly the view of the Carter [Center] that the state of democracy in the U.S. has been eroding ... This is the first time that we’re really looking at it in a robust manner,” he said.
  • "There has been no changes to any policies with regard to election mail," DeJoy testified to the Senate on Friday, adding that the USPS "is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time."

Where it stands: The Center "is still in the early stages of deciding exactly what its U.S. mission will look like or who will be involved," per the Independent.

  • Caroll said the Center would want to focus its U.S. election messaging on its international efforts, such as "[stressing] the importance of transparency mechanisms around an election as a means to really build confidence in the election process," and to fight misinformation, per the Independent.
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