Zuckerberg’s money will not be in the next round of selection

DENVER (AP) – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s nonprofit distributed most of the 350 350 million grant to election offices in 2020 on Monday said it would not distribute similar grants this year to Joe Biden’s presidential race after dubious contributions leaned to its results.

Instead, the Center for Technology and Civic Life is launching a different program. Called the US Alliance for Election Excellence, the $ 80-million, five-year effort aims to build a network of thousands of local election officials across the country who can apply for help to improve their technology and processes.

“Unfortunately, year after year low investment means that many local election departments often have limited capacity and training. The US Alliance for Election Excellence is bringing together world-class partners so that local election officials no longer have to go it alone, “said Tiana Eps-Johnson, executive director of CTCL, who announced the new program at the TED2022 conference.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan’s 2020 efforts in the Covid-19 epidemic have provoked conservative anger and distrust of the outcome of the presidential election. At least eight GOP-controlled states passed legislation last year banning private grants in election offices in response to Zuckerberg’s grants. Doubts that contributions – regularly referred to by conservatives as “Zuckerboxes” – have led the result toward Democrat Biden, who has become prominent among those who believe in former President Donald Trump’s electoral lies.

Several Republican election officials have said the program was vital and non-partisan, and have dismissed criticism as a conspiracy theory.

A spokesman for the foundation, led by Zuckerberg and Chan, confirmed that the couple was not financing the election office this year.

“As Mark and Priscilla made clear earlier, their electoral infrastructure donations were a one-time donation because of the unprecedented nature of the crisis, to ensure that Americans could vote during the height of the epidemic,” Ben Labolt said. “They have no plans to repeat that grant.”

Epps-Johnson said the group saw in 2020 how many local election offices were unfortunately underfunding. Elections in the United States are conducted locally, sometimes by a small staff of city or county staff and volunteers. One authority, CTCL, said its 2020 grant was used to replace century-old electoral tabulation equipment and that many fought to maintain accessible websites that could provide voter information on mobile devices.

The network will work with technology experts at Stanford University and elsewhere, Epps-Johnson said. Local election offices will be able to apply for assistance, but things will work out differently than they did two years ago.

In 2020, election offices were shaken to switch to mail voting because the epidemic made it difficult to maintain traditional polling stations. Negotiations over additional funding for the election office have been marred by factional clashes in Washington. In late August of that year, Zuckerberg announced his donations, and CTCL quickly distributed funds to 2,500 election offices, including new ballot counting equipment, pickup trucks to carry voting machines, and a wide range of publicity campaigns, including new ways to vote. Ballot

Conservatives were immediately skeptical. Many have long mistrusted Zuckerberg, believing he uses his social media platform to help Democrats. The CTCL is a non-partisan group that is respected by election administrators of both parties, but its founders are rooted in liberal politics. And while the grants went to conservative and liberal areas, the pro-democracy counties received an unequal share of the money in the war-torn states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

CTCL has spent a lot of time raising greater government funds for election offices since the 2020 competition, saying it would be better than any other round of private grants. The nonprofit was encouraged by Biden’s request for 10 10 billion in election funding in the federal budget released last month.

Yet the movement, driven by Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud, is stuck with the 2020 grant, one of his many complaints about how the election was conducted. For example, at the Colorado GOP Assembly on Saturday, candidate after candidate referred to Zuckerberg and “Zuckerbox” because they claimed that the election had been stolen from Republicans.

“Mark Zuckerberg and his shadow forces should never be responsible for our election,” said Tina Peters, a county clerk accused last year of playing a role in illegally downloading voting software that was provided to Trump supporters. He made the remarks to a crowd in Colorado Springs as he advanced to the party’s top ballot for the state’s top election office, the Secretary of State.

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