Non-profit

Election Infrastructure Initiative

The Election Infrastructure Initiative is a joint project of the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), part of a multi-billion-dollar “dark money” network run by the consultancy Arabella Advisors in Washington, DC and a front for the New Venture Fund and Sixteen Thirty Fund. The initiative seeks to help congressional Democrats pass a proposed infrastructure bill, including sweeping changes to the elections process.

Background

For more information, see Center for Tech and Civic Life (Nonprofit) and Center for Secure and Modern Elections (Nonprofit)

The Election Infrastructure Initiative is run by two organizations. The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) is a left-of-center advocacy group that supports sweeping transformations in the elections process\. CTCL was founded in 2012 by Tiana Epps-JohnsonDonny Bridges, and Whitney May, formerly staffers at the now-defunct New Organizing Institute (NOI), which the Washington Post has described as “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts for digital wizardry” for its prominence in training left-wing activists in digital strategy and organizing. In the months leading up to the 2020 election, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $350 million to CTCL in COVID-19 “relief funds,” which then disseminated the funds in grants to hundreds of county and city elections officials to pay for more staff, protective gear, equipment for processing mail-in and absentee ballots, and “voter education.” CTCL has been criticized for targeting Democratic-leaning jurisdictions in swing states critical to helping Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeat incumbent Republican President Donald Trump; in October 2020 the group was sued by the state of Louisiana for illegally funding local elections offices in violation of state law, although the suit was dismissed by a state judge. [1] [2]

The Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME) is a front for the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) pass-through funding nonprofit that specializes in fiscally sponsoring new left-wing activist groups. Its lobbying “sister,” CSME Action, is likewise sponsored by New Venture Fund affiliate Sixteen Thirty Fund, which also funds activist causes and incubates new advocacy organizations. Both nonprofits are managed by Arabella Advisors, a consulting firm in Washington, DC; Arabella’s nonprofit network, which includes two other nonprofits, has been criticized by left- and right-leaning commentators as a top “dark money” network on the Left. The New York Times has criticized Arabella’s “system of political financing, which often obscures the identities of donors,” as “dark money,” calling the network “a leading vehicle for it on the Left.” [3]

Advocacy and Lobbying

On May 6, 2021, the Election Infrastructure Initiative released a post arguing for Congress to include $20 billion in funding for “secure election infrastructure in the upcoming infrastructure bill” (unreleased as of May 6, 2021). The article cited a quotation from CTCL, one of the campaign’s parent groups and responsible for distributing $350 million in grants from Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to hundreds of county and city elections officials in the lead-up to the 2020 election: “Philanthropic funding for election administration helped make ends-meet in 2020. It was a Band-Aid, not a long-term solution.” Among the campaign’s priorities are: [4]

  • Replacing outdated voting machines
  • Upgrading voter registration databases and websites
  • Investing in election management equipment, including ballot sorters, envelope openers and stuffers, and ballot verification technology
  • Upgrading local election management systems, including software
  • Investing in physical infrastructure (including real estate) to allow local election jurisdictions to provide early, mail and in-person voting opportunities, and maintain secure facilities for storage of election equipment and materials
  • Bolstering systems to execute election audits
  • Strengthening cybersecurity posture

References

  1. For more on CTCL’s controversies and criticism, see its profile: https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/center-for-tech-and-civic-life/#criticism-and-controversies ^
  2. State of Louisiana v. Center for Technology and Civic Life, New Venture Fund, et al. Filed October 2, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2021. Original URL: https://lailluminator.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020.10.02-AG-Petition.pdf. Archived URL: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2021/05/Louisiana-v-CTCL-New-Venture-Fund.-10.02.2020.pdf ^
  3. Kenneth P. Vogel, Katie Robertson. “Top Bidder for Tribune Newspapers Is an Influential Liberal Donor.” New York Times. April 13, 2021. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/business/media/wyss-tribune-company-buyer.html ^
  4. “New Campaign Launches to Seek Federal Funding For Secure Election Infrastructure in Congressional Infrastructure Bill.” Election Infrastructure Initiative. May 6, 2021. Accessed May 13, 2021. Original URL: https://www.modernizeourelections.org/updates/newcampaign. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2021/05/election-infrastructure-initiative-lobbying-article-05.06.2021.pdf ^
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