Bipartisan group of former elected officials launches effort to restore trust in democracy

sign with American flag stating "Vote Here"

by Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]

June 25, 2024

Prominent former elected officials in Georgia from both sides of the aisle are banding together to launch a new group focused on restoring trust in democracy and defending the state election system.

The Democracy Defense Project, which was announced Tuesday, will consist of some former heavy hitters in Georgia politics: former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, former Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is a Democrat. 

The new group is part of a national effort focused on battleground states like Georgia.

A press release announcing the launch of the group described the effort as a “counterweight to attempts to undermine and sow distrust in election integrity.” They plan to do that through public statements pushing back on election disinformation and defending those who have sworn to uphold the rule of law.

“For far too long, politicians, pundits, and activists have worked overtime to sow distrust in America’s electoral process,” Deal, who left office in 2019, said in a statement.

“We refuse to sit on the sidelines while the bedrock of this great nation is eroded away by misinformation and dangerous political agendas. Our goal is to restore confidence in the electoral process that makes this country exceptional.”

The new bipartisan group launched as the 2024 presidential election is heating up, with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump set to face each other at the first presidential debate Thursday in Atlanta.

Georgia was at the center of failed attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump narrowly lost by about 12,000 votes.

The results of the 2020 election were upheld after three separate counts, including one done by hand. Investigations following the election failed to turn up widespread voter fraud.

The fervor over the 2020 election culminated in a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol as Congress worked to certify the results, briefly delaying the process.

“Trust in the electoral system and commitment to a peaceful transition of power are vital to the future success of our republic,” Barnes said in a statement. “While it may be politically advantageous to undermine America’s core values, it’s a harmful, damaging game with lasting consequences for ‘We the People.’”

Chambliss, who was a senator and congressman, said the group plans to “expose lies, promote truth, and ultimately ensure the future of our great republic.”

“The free and fair elections that American patriots fought and died for are being undermined on a daily basis by a slew of bad actors,” Chambliss said.

Franklin was the first female mayor of Atlanta.

“Georgia’s elections are secure and fair, and we are fighting to keep it that way,” Franklin said. “When voters from all four corners of our great state cast a ballot, they should be confident that the system works and their vote counts – because it does.”

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