Former President Jimmy Carter has urged Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp to resign as Georgia’s secretary of state to avoid damaging voter confidence in the election outcome next week.

Carter wrote a letter last week to Kemp, which was obtained by the Associated Press, saying he has “officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process.”

Kemp is running in a close race against Democrat Stacey Abrams and has dismissed calls from the opposing party to step aside in overseeing the election in which he is a candidate.

“This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority,” Carter responded.

A Kemp resignation “would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome,” Carter said.

Civil rights groups sued Kemp this month, accusing his office of using discriminatory measures to verify new voter registrations after an Associated Press investigation found that Kemp’s office had placed 53,000 voter registration applications on hold if they did not precisely match information on file with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration.

More than 70 percent of those applicants were African-American, prompting accusations that Kemp was trying to suppress minority votes. Kemp has denied that his practices are discriminatory.