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“Zucker-bucks” Threaten Our Election Integrity

Recently, the House Administration Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing on the use of private funding in our elections. Specifically, we discussed the use of “Zuckerbucks” (the name commonly used for non-government money spent on administering elections) in the 2020 presidential election, which has been a source of concern for many.

As the country prepared for the 2020 election, state and local election offices faced unique challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were worried that traditional voting in person would lead to negative public health consequences.

Months before the election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $350 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), started by former left-leaning organizers. According to Influencewatch.org, the CTCL is a Chicago-based center-left leaning organization. Another $69.5 million was given by Zuckerberg to a related organization, the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

These organizations used the “Zuckerbucks” to give out grants to election officials in hundreds of counties and cities across 48 states. According to Zuckerberg and the CTCL, these funds were to be used by election offices to help with COVID-19 related challenges, like hiring more staff, buying more voting machinery, buying personal protective equipment to safely administer elections, etc.

That was not the case.

Instead, much of the money was used for “get out the vote” efforts in areas that were more likely to vote Democrat. In fact, it’s been shown now that less than 1% of these funds were used to purchase personal protective equipment.

One example at the hearing of where the money was spent was on the use of mobile voting trucks in Wisconsin. They were purchased with “Zuckerbucks” and driven around Democrat-likely jurisdictions to help people there register to vote and/or vote absentee.

The data on the use of “Zuckerbucks” is alarming.

Let’s first look at our home state of Virginia.

As I pointed out during the hearing, Capital Research Center data showed Democrat-likely counties in Virginia received about 90% of the “Zuckerbucks,” while Republican-likely jurisdictions received only 10%.

Arlington County (in a D+26 Congressional District) alone received $238,643 in funding, while the entire 9th District (R+23), encompassing 28 jurisdictions, received just $78,053. This means 3 times as much money went to Arlington County.

What’s also interesting is the percentage of “Zuckerbucks” that went to urban areas vs. rural areas in Virginia. As the witness selected by the Democrats testified, administering elections in rural areas costs more per voter, as there is more ground to cover to ensure voters have reasonable access.

And yet, urban areas received more “Zuckerbucks” per voter than rural areas did.

Perhaps it is because urban areas tend to vote more Democratic than rural areas do?

According to one of our hearing’s witnesses, Mr. Scott Walter, nationwide the average number of Zuckerbucks spent in 2020 Trump jurisdictions was just 55 cents per capita. As opposed to 2020 Biden districts, where a whopping $3.75 was spent per capita.

Additionally, Democrat-likely jurisdictions in many of the 2020 battleground states received the lion’s share of grants given out by CTCL.

For example, Democrat-likely jurisdictions in Arizona received 75% of the Zuckerbucks awarded in that state; 83% in Pennsylvania; 86% in Michigan; 90% in Wisconsin; 94% in Georgia, and; 100% in Nevada.

While CTCL’s grants may not have been intended to benefit Democrats, it certainly did benefit them. As Mr. Walter said during the hearing, IRS policy states charities cannot have the effect, whether or not they had the intention, of helping one party over another in an election.

The CTCL privately donated funds helped significantly more Democrat voters participate in the 2020 election than Republican voters.

This is just one reason why private funding should not be used to administer elections. Private entities should not have the power to affect our elections like this – using resources to assist certain voters over others.

Elections should only be funded using public funds, administered by governments who have strict guidelines for how they run elections, have oversight mechanisms in place, and are beholden to the American people, not private interests.

Further, as I said in a subsequent hearing, if the government is going to give more money to run elections, we need to assure the formula is fair to rural jurisdictions.

Americans need to have faith that our elections are being administered in a fair and unpartisan way.

Thankfully, since the 2020 election, 27 states have banned or restricted election offices from using private funds, “Zuckerbucks,” to administer elections.

That’s why I am supporting a federal bill to stop “Zuckerbucks.”

– Congressman Morgan Griffith

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