Lawmakers Plan To End Private Funding

Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash

( – During a recent House committee session, Republican members contended that Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Meta, utilized significant donations to mobilize Democratic voters in critical swing states during the 2020 general election. These representatives expressed a willingness to allocate taxpayer dollars to fund election administrations while simultaneously restricting contributions similar to those referred to as ‘Zuckerbucks,’ a term coined to describe private donations.

Zuckerberg and his spouse, Priscilla Chan, defended their “one-time” donations to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), stating they were intended to support poll-worker training, provide protective equipment, and expand mail-in voting amid the pandemic. However, Republican committee members argued that these funds disproportionately benefited Democratic-leaning districts, alleging they were directed to mobilize voters.

Rep. Bryan Steil, Chair of the House Administration Committee, emphasized, “These funds were intended to support poll worker recruitment efforts or the purchase of new equipment. But in reality, some of these funds were used primarily for voter registration events and get-out-the-vote efforts in Democratic-leaning cities and towns.”

Echoing concerns about private influence in elections, Steil added, “Americans deserve to have confidence in their elections, which means elections should be free from undue private influence.”

While Democratic members concurred that election administrations should be publicly funded, they criticized the Republican focus on private funders, arguing it diverted attention from the overarching goal of aiding underfunded local election administrations.

Rep. Terri Sewell emphasized, “All of us can agree that no private funding should be funding our elections — it should be public funding.”

Addressing the contentious hearing, Rep. Norma Torres expressed concern about the committee’s direction, questioning its commitment to serving the American people. Meanwhile, ranking member Rep. Joseph Morelle underscored the need for adequate funding, suggesting that philanthropic contributions would be unnecessary if elections were adequately funded.

Zachary Mohr, an associate professor at the University of Kansas, highlighted the financial strain faced by local election jurisdictions, estimating a collective operational cost of $2 billion. Mohr stressed the urgent need for federal intervention, particularly as some states move to ban private funding, exacerbating the underfunding of election administration.

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