Opinion: Americans are fed up with the candidates. Clean up your act


To that end, on September 13, the Carter Center, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and 50 other organizations — including businesses, neighborhood moms and former lawmakers from across the political spectrum — launched the Candidate Principles for Trusted Elections. They are a simple set of basic ideals for the successful functioning of democracy. We call on candidates for state and federal office to pledge to uphold and uphold these five principles:

1. An honest process: Cooperate with election officials, abide by rules and regulations, and refrain from knowingly spreading falsehoods about the election process.

2. Civil Campaign: Promoting a peaceful electoral environment during the pre-election, voting, counting and post-election periods. Report any attempt to intimidate, harass, threaten or incite violence against opponents, their supporters or election workers.

3. Safe Vote: Respect the freedom of voters to exercise their legal rights to register and vote without interference, obstruction or intimidation.

4. Fair supervision: Encourage political parties and others to train poll observers in the electoral process and on appropriate roles and conduct, responsibilities and duties.

5. Reliable results: Making claims of electoral irregularities in accordance with the law and recognizing the legitimacy of the results, after verifying the results and deciding on all appeals.

The Carter Center has made a name for itself internationally, serving as an impartial observer of 113 elections in 39 countries since 1989. In 2020, with US divisions and partisan rhetoric becoming increasingly strident, the Center felt it needed to start drawing on that experience. at home.

We’re doing this by educating voters about how our election processes work and promoting more nonpartisan election observation in the US. We’re also building networks of politically diverse local leaders in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona — four states marked by particularly stark political divisions — but candidates, individuals and organizations are encouraged to sign.

As the November election approaches, some candidates have already taken note.

In Georgia, Republican Brad Raffensperger, Democrat Bee Nguyen and Libertarian Ted Metz—the candidates running for Secretary of State, an office directly involved in making elections—jointly pledged the Candidate Principles for Trusted Elections. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has joined them. By signing their names, these candidates have staked their reputations and character on civil, issue-based campaigns and accepting the results. We applaud their leadership and call on other competing candidate groups to do the same.

The take: To win, GOP candidates must step out of Trump's shadow
American history celebrates leaders who exemplified dignity and reconciliation. Our organizations were founded by former presidents who had very different political views, but believed that it was possible to disagree while liking and respecting each other.
President Gerald R. Ford, a Republican, led the country out of the bitter divisions of Watergate. President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, has dedicated his life to building hope in our country and in many others. Although they fiercely competed against each other in their efforts to win the White House in 1976, Ford and Carter worked together for decades into their presidencies, embodying the ideal of healing essential to a prosperous republic.

Intense competition is inevitable in a democracy, even essential. At the same time, America clearly needs to heal now—a healing centered on restoring shared trust in our most important institution, our electoral system. If America is to preserve fair elections — indeed, if it is to preserve the republic — our politicians must return to these core values.

Individual voters and grassroots organizations can make a difference. Ask your candidates to lead by example and agree to the Candidate Principles for Trusted Elections. Talk to your relatives and social media in the name of fair and peaceful elections.

While they are often drowned out by loud voices on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, most voters want their leaders to demonstrate decency and common sense, even in the heat of a campaign. It’s time for our candidates — people seeking public office — to take the lead in helping our country heal.