Former President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday denounced recent Republican-led efforts to restrict voter access in his home state of Georgia, saying he is “disheartened, saddened, and angry.”
“American democracy means every eligible person has the right to vote in an election that is fair, open, and secure. It should be flexible enough to meet the electorate’s changing needs. As Georgians, we must protect these values,” the former Democratic President wrote in a statement. “We must not lose the progress we have made. We must not promote confidence among one segment of the electorate by restricting the participation of others. Our goal always should be to increase, not decrease, voter participation.”
Carter’s rebuke comes as Georgia’s Republican-led legislature is advancing a sweeping election bill with restrictions on voter access, repealing no-excuse absentee voting. The bill creates ID requirements to request an absentee ballot and establishes a hotline to file complaints and allegations of voter intimidation and illegal election activities.
GOP officials have said the bill is necessary to restore confidence in the voting system, but it has been Republican lawmakers and former President Donald Trump who have pushed baseless voter fraud claims surrounding the 2020 election.
Carter didn’t name Trump in his statement but addressed the debunked claims.
“Many of the proposed changes are reactions to allegations of fraud for which no evidence was produced—allegations that were, in fact, refuted through various audits, recounts, and other measures,” Carter said.
The state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, has not declared whether he would sign the bill in its current form into law, but a spokeswoman has told CNN via email that Kemp “has been clear about his support for strengthened voter ID provisions on absentee voting.”
Georgia has been a major political focal point after the state flipped blue, for the first time in nearly 30 years, during the 2020 presidential election. In addition to the presidency, Democrats also won both of Georgia’s US Senate seats in January runoff elections.
Meanwhile, Republicans in state houses nationwide have pushed efforts to roll back voting access. On Monday, Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law that makes it harder to vote early.
Carter’s statement was issued by the Carter Center, an organization founded by the former President and former first lady Rosalynn Carter. The organization has helped support democratic elections in countries during fragile and volatile times for more than three decades, observing more than 100 elections in 39 countries.
The first time that the nonprofit, which has observed elections around the world, monitored any part of an election process in the US was following the 2020 election — during the hand recount of the presidential election results in Georgia.