The Center for Civic and Tech Life, a previously small Chicago-based nonprofit that was facing funding shortages before the 2020 election was given a huge breath of fresh air when Mark Zuckerberg donated a jaw-dropping $350 million to the group. According to CTCL’s website, “We provide funding to U.S. local election offices to help ensure they have the critical resources they need to safely serve every voter in 2020.” By granting this money to the election judges directly, Zuckerberg’s donation dodged the transparency requirements usually needed when donating to a political party as an individual.
Election judges were given access to immense free resources as well. However, these grants demanded mandates with specific outcomes, of course. In Green Bay for example, election judges had to agree to run voter registration drives in minority communities. Communities that happen to traditionally vote Democratic in Green Bay elections. Why are these supposed ‘neutral arbiter’ election judges able to accept this kind of money to influence an election with no consequences? You guessed it, under the guise of COVID-19. As stated on CTCL’s website:
“The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) has been thrilled to expand our COVID-19 Response Grant program to all U.S. local election jurisdictions. Backed by a generous $250M contribution, CTCL received grant applications from over 2,500 local election jurisdictions across the country to help ensure they have the staffing, training, and equipment necessary so this November every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted.”
Make no mistake about it, the influence was indeed great. Of the 2,500 locations, battleground states that Biden needed but Trump was expected to win, were hit the hardest. States like New Hampshire, Georgia, Michigan, Philadelphia and Wisconsin. For example, AMP reports that Chester County, PA was granted $2.5 million by CTCL, which is more than their total election budget for the entirety of 2020. Bill Turner, Director of Voting Services for Chester County said, “Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without it,” in an interview with AMP Reports.
“Chester is one of several large suburban counties that ring Philadelphia — once-Republican strongholds that have shifted in Democrats’ favor in recent years. Pennsylvania was pivotal to Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, and his win in the state was fueled in part by his success in Chester County. He won it by 17 percentage points — nearly double Hillary Clinton’s margin four years earlier.
Turner used the grant to buy 14 drop boxes for ballots, pay staff to watch those sites and purchase body cameras that recorded employees collecting ballots from the drop boxes. He also spent a large portion of his grant funding on additional equipment and people to ensure ballots were mailed and counted quickly. The county processed 150,000 mail ballots for the November election in 36 hours. Without the new equipment and personnel, he said, it would have taken a week or longer.”
Zuckerberg and CTCL, under the protection of federal tax code 51C3, have refused to give up information on just how much money went to Republican areas as opposed to Democrat areas. Why Mr. Zuckerberg or the CTCL would choose not to clear the air on this seemingly suspicious ordeal is still unknown. Either way, this is certainly a ‘loophole’ of sorts that voters should be taking note of and actions to prevent from happening again. As it stands, Mark Zuckerberg and CTCL just showed the world how to influence an election out in the open, with protection under the law. It looks like it may be happening again sooner than we think too. With the Georgia runoff lurking in the very near future, this can be found on CTCL’s website:
“The deadline to apply for a CTCL COVID-19 Response Grant was Thursday, October 15th. However, if you are a Georgia election office, you’re eligible to apply for grant funds for the Georgia January 2021 runoff election. “