RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With voters returning to polls, including in North Carolina soon, a new bipartisan effort begins Tuesday to try to bolster trust and confidence in elections. 

The Carter Center, that was founded by former President Jimmy Carter, is initiating the project in a few key swing states, including North Carolina, amid concerns about growing mistrust in elections, particularly after 2020.

A group of former elected officials, people who currently run elections and experts in the field, will travel the state for a series of public events aimed at combating disinformation and restoring trust in democracy. 

“When people have good information, when they understand the process, what’s behind the curtain, they are much more likely to trust what’s going on,” Jennifer Roberts said, a Democrat and former mayor of Charlotte. 

Roberts is leading the initiative with Bob Orr, a former Republican state Supreme Court justice. Over the next several weeks, they’re holding an event in each of the state’s 14 congressional districts, beginning Tuesday in Wake Forest. One event will be conducted virtually so people statewide can participate on Sept. 19. To see the schedule, click here.

“We’ve seen this escalation of antagonism toward our election system. And, the polling numbers show a lack of confidence, a lack of trust,” Orr said. “If you lose confidence in that underlying premise, that the elections while not perfect are fair and safe and secure, then you undermine democracy.” 

In late 2021, a NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll sought to gauge to what extent voters have confidence in elections. When asked if they trust that elections are fair, 58 percent of voters said they do “a great deal” or “a good amount.” However, 39 percent said they either don’t trust that very much or not at all. 

A separate poll released earlier this year by the conservative John Locke Foundation, found that 60 percent of Republican primary voters in North Carolina do not believe this year’s election will be free and fair. Only 30 percent said they think it will be free and fair. 

“Some of it is due to President Trump denying what happened in 2020 and raising doubts and concerns. Some of it is the ability of people to share that, kind of amplify that,” Roberts said. 

She said one of the goals of this statewide tour is to take people behind the scenes of the election process — to show what goes into preparing for an election and the safeguards that are in place.  

“What we find is transparency is key,” she said. “We’re hoping that people will continue to show up and vote and with this information, they will trust that that vote will count and will be safe, secure and fair.” 

Orr said as technology has advanced some people have become more suspicious about potential interference and hacking. He added that it’s incumbent on elected leaders to share facts about elections and not spread disinformation. 

“Part of our responsibility on behalf of democracy is to get out there and try and convince them that we have a great system of elections,” he said. “Leaders in both political parties, and particularly those who are registered Republicans, need to be speaking out saying, look, the elections here are safe and secure. The people working it are your neighbors.”