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Mark Zuckerberg Ends Election Grants

By , in Politics , at April 13, 2022

A spokesman for the Fb founder stated the cash despatched to election workplaces in 2020 was a “one-time donation.” The grants prompted Republicans to push for bans on non-public donations for elections.

Mark Zuckerberg, who donated practically half a billion {dollars} to election workplaces throughout the nation in 2020 and drew criticism from conservatives suspicious of his affect on the presidential election, received’t be making extra grants this yr, a spokesman for the Fb founder confirmed on Tuesday.

The spokesman, Ben LaBolt, stated the donations by Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief government of Meta, and his spouse, Priscilla Chan, had been by no means meant to be a stream of funding for the administration of elections.

The couple gave $419 million to 2 nonprofit organizations that disbursed grants in 2020 to greater than 2,500 election departments, which had been grappling with a shortfall of presidency funding as they adopted new procedures in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

The infusion of personal donations helped to pay for brand new ballot-counting gear, efforts to develop mail-in voting, private protecting gear and the coaching of ballot staff.

It additionally sowed seeds of distrust amongst supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. Critics referred to the grants as “Zuckerbucks” and a few steadily claimed, with out proof, that the cash was used to assist safe Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. A number of states managed by Republicans banned non-public donations to election workplaces in response.

“As Mark and Priscilla made clear beforehand, their election infrastructure donation to assist make sure that Individuals might vote in the course of the top of the pandemic was a one-time donation given the unprecedented nature of the disaster,” Mr. LaBolt stated in an electronic mail on Tuesday. “They don’t have any plans to repeat that donation.”

The Middle for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit group with liberal ties that turned a vessel for $350 million of the contributions from Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan in 2020, introduced on Monday that it was shifting to a unique mannequin for supporting the work of native election directors.

Throughout an look on Monday on the TED2022 convention in Vancouver, Tiana Epps-Johnson, the middle’s government director, stated that the group would start a five-year, $80 million program to assist meet the wants of election departments throughout the nation.

Known as the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, this system will draw funding by the Audacious Venture, a philanthropic collective housed on the TED group, the middle stated. Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan aren’t concerned within the new initiative, Mr. LaBolt stated.

On the occasion on Monday, Ms. Epps-Johnson stated the grants distributed by the middle in 2020 helped fill a considerable void of assets for these overseeing elections in the US. One city in New England, she stated with out specifying, was in a position to exchange voting gear from the early 1900s that was held along with duct tape.

“The US election infrastructure is crumbling,” Ms. Epps-Johnson stated.

Along with the Middle for Expertise and Civic Life, Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan gave $69.6 million to the Middle for Election Innovation & Analysis in 2020. On the time, that nonprofit group stated that the highest election officers in 23 states had utilized for grants.

Republicans have been unrelenting of their criticism of the social media mogul and his donations.

Whereas campaigning for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday in Perrysburg, Ohio, J.D. Vance, the “Hillbilly Elegy” writer who has undergone a conversion to Trumpism, continued to accuse Mr. Zuckerberg of tipping the election in 2020 to Mr. Biden.

Mr. Vance, a enterprise capitalist, hasn’t precisely sworn off assist from huge tech. He counts Peter Thiel, a departing board member of Mr. Zuckerberg’s firm, Meta, and a serious donor to Mr. Trump, as a top fund-raiser. Mr. Thiel has additionally supported Blake Masters, a Republican Senate candidate in Arizona.

In an opinion piece for The New York Post final October, Mr. Vance and Mr. Masters referred to as for Fb’s affect to be curbed, writing that Mr. Zuckerberg had spent half a billion {dollars} to “purchase the presidency for Joe Biden.”

In Colorado, Tina Peters, the top vote-getter for secretary of state at the state Republican Party’s assembly final weekend, has been a fierce critic of Mr. Zuckerberg, even after her arrest this year on charges stemming from an election security breach. Ms. Peters, the Mesa County clerk, is dealing with a number of felonies amid accusations that she allowed an unauthorized particular person to repeat voting machine onerous drive data.


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