Non-profit

U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence

For more information on the 2020 election, see Center for Technology & Civic Life (Nonprofit)

The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is a coalition of left-of-center election reform nonprofits created in 2022 as an initiative of the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to bolster election security by financing the training of local election officials across the United States.

In 2020, CTCL received a $350 million donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan to fund thousands of local elections offices in the form of COVID-19 “relief grants.” Critics have alleged that CTCL’s “Zuck bucks” favored Democratic vote-rich counties and cities in key battleground states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania. Since the 2020 elections, at least 18 states have since banned or restricted “Zuck bucks” and several watchdog groups and conservative organizations have begun investigations into CTCL includingthe Capital Research Center. [1] In early 2022, Zuckerberg and Chan announced they would not attempt to privately fund elections offices in the future, as they had in 2020. Shortly after their announcement, CTCL launched the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, which has no official connection with Zuckerberg and Chan. [2]

Although the Alliance is officially nonpartisan, its members are connected left-of-center groups both through financial support and advising. [3] The Alliance is sponsored by the Audacious Project, a program of TED Conferences, which is supported by the Bridgespan Group and Science Philanthropy Alliance, a project of the left-of-center New Venture Fund, itself part of a multi-billion-dollar “dark money” network run by consulting firm Arabella Advisors. [4] [5]

Founding

In mid-2020, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $350 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation as part of a larger effort to ensure voter safety and election security during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution attracted criticism from conservatives and watchdog groups with concern that private donations from left-of-center sources to non-partisan election infrastructure might induce bias in favor of Democrats, as they claimed such funds went disproportionately to swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. At the same time, numerous states with Republican controlled legislatures passed laws banning or restricting private donations to election offices. [6] [7] [8]

The Capital Research Center, which publishes InfluenceWatch, has extensively documented CTCL’s spending pattern in the 2020 election; for more information, see Center for Tech and Civic Life. [9]

In light of these criticisms, in April 2022, CTCL executive director Tianna Epps-Johnson announced that Zuckerberg and Chan would not be making more donations to election security organizations. Instead, CTCL would launch the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence to bring in other partners. [10] Zuckerberg and Chan have no involvement in the Alliance. [11]

Structure

In 2022, its first year of operation, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence has announced it plans on opening applications for local election offices to receive resources and training on election security. Offices which show sufficient “commitment” to improving will be certified as “U.S. Centers for Election Excellence.” [12] Support is provided to members for at least two years. [13] The Alliance’s online FAQ states that it will give “guidance and resources” to any election office members that attract criticism for receiving funding from the Alliance. [14]

Left-wing Partners

The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is led by the Center for Tech and Civic Life in collaboration with a number of left-of-center and politically active groups.

The Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME) is an election reform organization and a front for the New Venture Fund, a major pass-through and fiscal sponsor on the Left and part of a multi-billion-dollar “dark money” nonprofit network run by Arabella Advisors in Washington, DC. The group supports “reforms” many on the Left believe will aid Democrats running for office, including automatic voter registration. [15] In 2020, CSME helped CTCL funnel Zuck bucks into at least two states: Louisiana and Pennsylvania, which earned it a lawsuit in early 2022 from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who argued: [16]

Whether the defendants here may be well-intentioned, private money in any amount, but particularly the amount of money offered by the defendants to select clerks and/or registrars, has an inherently insidious and corrupting effect.

The Elections Group is a consulting firm founded by two former Democratic county elections officials to offer “guidance” to election offices on how to implement ballot curing and all-mail elections systems, including drop boxes meant to bypass U.S. Postal Service collection bins in order to enhance mail-in and absentee ballot collection. [17]

Both the Elections Group and CTCL were referenced by the Biden campaign as key resources and partners in election security. [18]

The Center for Civic Design aims to redesign ballots to make voting easier, particularly for perceived likely Democratic voters such as recent immigrants, youth, and ethnic minorities. It recommends policymakers make vote-by-mail permanent in their states and counties. It’s advised by the National Vote at Home Institute, a left-wing advocate for all-mail elections, with funding from liberal billionaire and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund. [19]

In addition, the alliance includes less partisan members such as Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, the Prototyping Systems Lab at the University of California at Davis, and U.S. Digital Response. [20]

Spending

The Center for Tech and Civic Life announced plans to spend $80 million over five years on the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. [21]

According to the Associated Press, in December 2022 the CTCL’s U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence initiative announced plans to donate another $80 million in grants to “10 county and municipal election offices” over the next 5 years. [22] The “first wave” counties selected by the U.S Alliance for Election Excellence were:

“Contra Costa and Shasta counties in California; Greenwich, Connecticut; Kane and Macoupin counties in Illinois; Ottawa County, Michigan; Clark County, Nevada; Brunswick and Forsyth counties in North Carolina; and Madison, Wisconsin.” [23] [24]

The Associated Press also reported that the grant allocation plan is broken up based on the size of each county, “from $50,000 for those with fewer than 5,000 registered voters to $3 million for those with more than 1 million voters,” [25] and that grants would not be provided to states that passed legislation banning private funding for elections. According to CTCL executive director Tiana Epps-Johnson, the counties initially selected will receive the grant totals over a two-year period leading up to the 2024 presidential election. [26]

Funding

The program’s funding comes from the Audacious Project, a program of TED Conferences that “brings together social entrepreneurs with private donors.” [27] The Audacious Project is “supported” by the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit consulting firm that has worked for many major left-of-center organizations, including Planned Parenthood and the Rockefeller Foundation. Other members of the Audacious Project include the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, ELMA Philanthropies, and the Valhalla Charitable Foundation. Prospective Audacious Project members are identified by Science Philanthropy Alliance, a project of the New Venture Fund. [28] [29]

Along with the Alliance, the Audacious Project’s new 2021-2022 cohort includes ClimateWorks: Drive Electric, Glasswing International, MyAgro, the International Refugee Assistance Project, Noora Health, the Woodwell Climate Research Center, and the Tenure Facility. [30]

References

  1. Hayden Ludwig and Sarah Lee. “States Banning or Restricting ‘Zuck Bucks’—UPDATED 04/28/2022.” Capital Research Center. April 28, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/states-banning-zuck-bucks/ ^
  2. Riccardi, Nicholas. “Zuckerberg money won’t be in next round of aid for elections.” Associated Press. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-biden-covid-technology-business-7c9c9aeca62a308aafef886859640835. ^
  3. Hayden Ludwig. “Making Vote By Mail Permanent.” The American Conservative. April 27, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-vote-by-mail-permanent/ ^
  4. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  5. “Support for the Science Philanthropy Alliance’s 2021 Activities.” Grant detail. Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation. Accessed April 25, 2022. https://www.moore.org/grant-detail?grantId=GBMF4142.07. ^
  6. Riccardi, Nicholas. “Zuckerberg money won’t be in next round of aid for elections.” Associated Press. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-biden-covid-technology-business-7c9c9aeca62a308aafef886859640835. ^
  7. Riccardi, Nicholas. “Zuckerberg’s cash fuels GOP suspicion and new election rules.” Associated Press. August 8, 2021. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/elections-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-d034c4c1f5a9fa3fb02aa9898493c708. ^
  8. Hayden Ludwig and Sarah Lee. “States Banning or Restricting ‘Zuck Bucks’—UPDATED 04/28/2022.” Capital Research Center. April 28, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/states-banning-zuck-bucks/ ^
  9. Hayden Ludwig and Parker Thayer. “Shining a Light on Zuck Bucks in the 2020 Battleground States.” Capital Research Center. Jan. 18, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/shining-a-light-on-zuck-bucks-in-key-states/ ^
  10. Riccardi, Nicholas. “Zuckerberg money won’t be in next round of aid for elections.” Associated Press. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-biden-covid-technology-business-7c9c9aeca62a308aafef886859640835. ^
  11. Vigdor, Neil. “Mark Zuckerberg Ends Election Grants.” New York Times. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/12/us/politics/mark-zuckerberg-midterms-elections-grant.html. ^
  12. “A community of support focusing on the fundamentals of democracy.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/. ^
  13. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  14. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  15. Hayden Ludwig. “Making Vote By Mail Permanent.” The American Conservative. April 27, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-vote-by-mail-permanent/ ^
  16. Hayden Ludwig. “Louisiana Turns Up the Heat on CTCL and Arabella’s New Venture Fund.” Capital Research Center. April 5, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/louisiana-turns-up-the-heat-on-ctcl-and-arabellas-new-venture-fund/ ^
  17. Hayden Ludwig. “Making Vote By Mail Permanent.” The American Conservative. April 27, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-vote-by-mail-permanent/ ^
  18. Bob Bauer and Dana Remus. “THE PROTECTION OF THE 2020 ELECTION: THE VIEW FROM THE BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN.” Accessed April 28, 2022. Original URL: https://joebiden.com/the-protection-of-the-2020-election/. Archived: https://capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/joe-biden-campaign-2020-election-security-protection.pdf ^
  19. Hayden Ludwig. “Making Vote By Mail Permanent.” The American Conservative. April 27, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-vote-by-mail-permanent/ ^
  20. Gardner, Amy. “Nonprofit pledges $80 million for local election administration.” Washington Post. April 13, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:qHmKqAm-lF4J:https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/04/12/center-for-tech-civic-life-elections-funds/+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ua ^
  21. Riccardi, Nicholas. “Zuckerberg money won’t be in next round of aid for elections.” Associated Press. April 12, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-biden-covid-technology-business-7c9c9aeca62a308aafef886859640835. ^
  22. Kittle, M.D. “Zuckerbucks-Backed Group Back in Wisconsin.” Wisconsin Daily Star, December 15, 2022. https://wisconsindailystar.com/2022/12/15/zuckerbucks-backed-group-back-in-wisconsin/?utm_source=offthepress&utm_medium=home ^
  23. [note] Verhuizen, Harm. Election nonprofit that drew Republican ire in 2020 renews grants.” The Associated Press, December 15, 2022. https://pbswisconsin.org/news-item/election-nonprofit-that-drew-republican-ire-in-2020-renews-grants/ ^
  24. Kittle, M.D. “Zuckerbucks-Backed Group Back in Wisconsin.” Wisconsin Daily Star, December 15, 2022. https://wisconsindailystar.com/2022/12/15/zuckerbucks-backed-group-back-in-wisconsin/?utm_source=offthepress&utm_medium=home ^
  25. Verhuizen, Harm. Election nonprofit that drew Republican ire in 2020 renews grants.” The Associated Press, December 15, 2022. https://pbswisconsin.org/news-item/election-nonprofit-that-drew-republican-ire-in-2020-renews-grants/ ^
  26. [note] Verhuizen, Harm. Election nonprofit that drew Republican ire in 2020 renews grants.” The Associated Press, December 15, 2022. https://pbswisconsin.org/news-item/election-nonprofit-that-drew-republican-ire-in-2020-renews-grants/ ^
  27. Gardner, Amy. “Nonprofit pledges $80 million for local election administration.” Washington Post. April 13, 2022. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:qHmKqAm-lF4J:https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/04/12/center-for-tech-civic-life-elections-funds/+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ua. ^
  28. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  29. “Support for the Science Philanthropy Alliance’s 2021 Activities.” Grant detail. Gordon E. and Betty I. Moore Foundation. Accessed April 25, 2022. https://www.moore.org/grant-detail?grantId=GBMF4142.07. ^
  30. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
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