where we work

United States of America

Waging Peace

The Carter Center's Democracy Program does not observe U.S. elections but has operated within the boundaries of the United States when monitoring key elections conducted by the Cherokee Nation, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. It has also led workshops and forums on Native American voting rights and access.

In 2016, The Carter Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures partnered to examine election observation in the U.S. and the main regulations that shape observer access. The main conclusions of that project can be found here.

In addition, the Center’s Human Rights Program hosts the annual Human Rights Defenders Forum, which includes U.S. as well as international activists.

+Cherokee Nation Elections

2011 Election

In September 2011, a Carter Center delegation observed the Cherokee Nation's special election for principal chief. The election marked a transition of power from a 12-year incumbency in a vote that was inclusive and a counting process that was credible and accurate. Twelve Carter Center observers were deployed throughout the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation and visited all 38 polling precincts, and observers also witnessed all three days of the vote-counting process and additional days of voting.

1999 Election

The Carter Center observed the May 22, 1999, Cherokee Nation election for the positions of principal chief, deputy chief, and all 15 Tribal Council seats. In a postelection statement, The Carter Center noted that the Cherokee Nation election was well-run and met professional standards for an acceptable process. Carter Center monitors returned to Oklahoma to witness a runoff election on July 24, 1999.

+Cheyenne/Arapaho Tribes


The Carter Center deployed small observation teams to both the Oct. 3 primary and the Dec. 12 general election. Carter Center teams visited almost all polling stations in both the Oct. 3 primary and the Dec. 12 general election. Overall, election-day activities during both the primary and general election were assessed positively by the Center’s observer missions. The polls took place in an organized and calm manner, allowing voters to freely cast their votes. The Center made a number of recommendations to improve future elections, including improving and updating the voter register.

+Muscogee (Creek) Nation


The Carter Center deployed a small team of three international electoral experts to observe elections in Muscogee (Creek) Nation for principal chief, second chief, and members of the National Council for both the Nov. 2, 2019, primary election and the Dec. 14, 2019, general election, visiting all early-voting and election-day precincts. Observers reported that polling processes proceeded smoothly, both during early voting and on election day and made some recommendations for future elections.

+Defending Human Rights

Human Rights Defenders Forum

Human rights activists from countries worldwide gather periodically at the Human Rights Defenders Forum at The Carter Center to discuss national and global issues affecting the enjoyment of human rights, such as the state of U.S. commitments to human rights and effective ways to bridge gaps between religious, traditional, and formal state institutions to advance the protection of women's rights. Discussions are led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and following each event, a delegation meets with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss the forum's issues and goals as they relate to U.S. policy.

Learn more about the Human Rights Defenders Forum >

+The Atlanta Project

The Carter Center launched The Atlanta Project in 1991 to address some of the complex and entrenched social problems associated with urban poverty in the city. Based on grassroots participation by volunteers and community leaders, The Atlanta Project worked to generate creative responses in the areas of education, housing, economic development, health, and criminal justice. In 1999, Georgia State University was given a grant to continue the groundbreaking work of The Atlanta Project.

Fighting Disease

Most of the Carter Center's programming occurs outside the United States, with the exception of the Mental Health Program, founded by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1991. In conjunction with national partners, the program is building hope for a future where all Americans with mental disorders will receive access to treatment they need.

+Mental Health Care in the United States

The Carter Center's Mental Health Program works primarily in the United States to promote awareness about mental health issues, inform public policy, achieve equity for mental health care comparable to other health care, and reduce stigma and discrimination against those with mental illnesses.

The program brings together health leaders and national organizations to discuss important issues facing the mental health care system at the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, while the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum targets issues at the state level. All program activities are guided by the Center's Mental Health Task Force.

Since 1996, the Carter Center's Mental Health Program also has worked in the United States and other countries to help facilitate more accurate and balanced media coverage of mental illnesses to improve the public's understanding of these issues and combat stigma and discrimination against people living with mental health problems. Recipients of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism from the United States have produced award-winning books, newspaper articles, and radio and video documentaries covering topics such as mental health care for the homeless, suicide, and aging and mental health.

The Center also works at a national policy level to improve behavioral health care access and quality in the primary care system through its Primary Care Initiative.

In addition, since 2008, via its only local program, The Carter Center has been working with mental health stakeholders in Georgia to help bring forward solutions to help the state government address Georgia's crumbling public mental health care system.

Learn more about the Carter Center's involvement in resolving Georgia's mental health crisis.

Read the Global Health magazine 2011 essay: "Stigma Research To Build Better Mental Health," page 19 >

Read the Wall Street Journal news story: "How Doctors Try To Spot Depression" >

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