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Jimmy Carter warns American democracy ‘has become dangerously fragile’ in Jan 6 essay

Jimmy Carter warns American democracy ‘has become dangerously fragile’ in Jan 6 essay
Former president pens op-ed for The New York Times in wake of subversive election threats

Former president Jimmy Carter penned a sobering column 为了 纽约时报 in which he warns that a relentless and powerful disinformation campaign to sow distrust – and a rising tolerance for political violence – has left the nation teetering “on the brink of a widening abyss.”

Following a pro-Trump assault at the US Capitol in a violent, failed attempt to reject the 2020 总统选举, despite a “brief hope” that the violence would shock the nation’s consciousness into action, the false “stolen election” narrative that fuelled the attack is as present as ever, Mr Carter writes.

“I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally – the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power – has become dangerously fragile at home,” he writes.

The 39th president of the US – who co-founded the Carter Center, an international democracy and human rights protection organisation – warned against politicians leveraging distrust to justify legislation to undermine ballot access and consolidate electoral oversight, currently playing out in state legislatures across the US.

在 2021, Republican state lawmakers in 17 states passed at least 32 new laws to change the rules of election administration and strip oversight from election officials, 根据 States United Democracy Center.

Republican lawmakers filed at least 262 such bills in 41 states in 2021 独自的, and more are expected in 2022.

A parallel effort driven by the same baseless election fraud claims has seen dozens of bills to make voting more difficult.

至少 19 states passed 24 laws restricting ballot access, after GOP lawmakers filed more than 440 bills in 49 states in 2021 独自的, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

More than a dozen bills restricting ballot access have been pre-filed ahead of 2022 legislative sessions in four states, and at least 88 bills in nine states will carry over from 2021 sessions.

Reuters identified 多于 100 threats of death or violence against election workers, and hundreds of reports of intimidation and harassment.

One in three election workers feel unsafe because of their jobs, and one in six workers have faced threats as they help run the nation’s elections, according to a 2021 report from the Brennan Center.

纽约时报, Mr Carter outlines several steps to preserve American democracy, including a universal agreement on the “fundamental constitutional principles and norms of fairness, civility and respect for the rule of law,” including assurance that elections are “conducted peacefully, free of intimidation and violence.”

The former president writes that Americans must resist political polarisation and “stand up to the forces dividing us”, protect election officials from political violence, and reform social media platforms to combat the spread of disinformation.

“Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy,” Mr Carter writes. “Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.”