Carter Center to monitor midterm elections in Georgia’s Fulton County during high-profile year

On Saturday, trainers were busy at The Carter Center in Georgia teaching the “dos and don’ts” of being an election monitor just days before the midterm elections kick off.

Co-founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, a big part of The Carter Center’s operations includes international election monitoring. Since 1989, TCC has observed 113 elections in 39 countries.

Though the training itself is nothing new for the Atlanta-based organization, the service has never been offered at the center’s headquarters.

“We’re really excited to be able to bring this experience to Fulton County, here, in what is the first nonpartisan election observation effort like this, certainly in Georgia, but we think probably in the country,” Avery Davis-Roberts, associate director of the center’s democracy program, said.

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Avery Davis-Roberts, associate director with the Carter Center’s democracy program, speaks to volunteer election observers training on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at the Carter Center in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, has been under fire in recent years after former President Donald Trump claimed its election administration played a large role in his loss during the 2020 Presidential Election, according to The Associated Press.

David Carroll, director of the center’s democracy program, said TCC leaders have become increasingly concerned that Americans are beginning to lose faith and public confidence in elections.

“We view nonpartisan observation as one step among many by different actors that we can do as election observers to try to bring more understanding and confidence to election processes,” Carroll said.

After the 2020 election, Carter Center officials monitored Georgia’s audit of the state’s five million presidential ballots, which affirmed Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden.

Because of the center’s known nonpartisan stance, Republican state officials and Fulton County’s Democratic-controlled election board jointly invited the center to monitor the 2022 midterm elections, The Associated Press reported.

The invitation stems from hopes of easing partisan tensions regarding how elections are conducted in Georgia and boosting public confidence in final tallies, especially during this year’s high-profile races for governor and Senate.

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Carter Center employee Jordan McNairy collects signed codes of conduct from volunteer election observers training on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at the Carter Center in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

Though The Carter Center was asked to monitor the midterms by both sides of the aisle, Davis-Roberts stated election monitors are not like poll watchers and do not act on behalf of any party or candidate.

“We’re looking at the system of election administration,” Davis-Roberts said. “We’re looking at whether policies, procedures and rules for the election are followed and whether those rules allow for people to experience a safe, secure, accessible and fair election.”

The center said volunteers are drawn from its employees and supporters and members of the Georgia Democracy Resilience Network. All monitors signed a code of conduct and were given extensive checklists on election procedures and responsibilities.

The workers have already hit the ground running in this year’s elections by monitoring early voting and the processing of absentee ballots.

On Tuesday, they’ll spread out among Fulton County’s 250-plus polling places beginning at 6 a.m. to monitor voting procedures and the counting of ballots after polls close.

Voters fill out forms as they wait in line to cast ballots in the last hour of early voting in the Atlanta suburb of Tucker, Ga., on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
(AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

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The Carter Center usually issues preliminary findings days after an election but instead expects to make a full report to state and county officials around Dec. 15.

The findings of the report could contribute to the State Election Board’s decision of whether to take over Fulton County or continue to allow control at the local level.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.