Special Report

BREAKING: “Zuck Bucks” Pushing Progressive Policy in Elections Offices


Newly revealed documents acquired by the Honest Elections Project and John Locke Foundation and reported in the Washington Examiner reveal how the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) is influencing local elections offices, a near-repeat of its meddling in the 2020 election.

The Capital Research Center was among the first to report on CTCL’s newest venture: the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, an $80 million coalition of leftist groups that aim to warp America’s election system. Last year, the alliance launched a series of secretive “trainings” for government elections officials culminating in a series of cash rewards for graduates—something CTCL apparently swore off after its notorious COVID-19 “relief grants” program in 2020 led 24 states to ban or restrict private funding for elections.

The revelations also contradict favorable reporting on CTCL by AP and other left-leaning outlets since 2020, which painted CTCL’s grants scheme as nonpartisan and noninvasive. In December 2022, for instance, AP reported that the Alliance’s grants come “with almost no restrictions on how [the money] can be spent.”

Now that we’re discovering more about how these “trainings” operate, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Trainings”

Amazingly, the Honest Elections Project documents (archived here) reveal how the alliance reportedly created “scholarships” to cover mandatory membership fees charged to counties, funds which were then converted to “credits” that member counties can use to purchase services exclusively from alliance partners.

Those partners include the Elections Group, a consultancy on drop boxes and ballot curing practices run by former Pierre Omidyar consultant Jennifer Morrell and Noah Praetz, elections director for Chicago’s Cook County, Illinois. One North Carolina official admitted that the Elections Group provided her county with templated social media posts” ahead of the 2020 election.

There’s also the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, the lead vote-by-mail advocacy group in Arabella Advisors’ $1.6 billion “dark money” empire, which could provide counties with “legal, policy, [and] political assistance.” (Both CTCL and the Center for Secure and Modern Elections are under investigation in Louisiana for allegedly interfering with the state’s elections in 2020.)

The Center for Civic Design, which redesigns ballots with non-English speakers in mind, would provide coaching on standard operating procedures, pocket voting guides, and “vote by mail.” Stanford University would “brainstorm,” while U.S. Digital Response would provide “off the shelf software” and “poll worker management systems.” Counties could also turn to CTCL for funding. (For more on the alliance partners, click here.)

In other words, counties are incentivized to join CTCL’s alliance with privately subsidized services ranging from legal and political consulting, recruitment and training guidance, and public relations—all provided by partisan organizations intent on transforming America’s elections.

The Inevitable Strings

CTCL and its friends in the left-leaning media have claimed that its services come with no strings attached. In reality, they’re anything but “free.”

According to the documents, member counties are allegedly expected to provide the alliance with in-kind contributions and information about internal operations and work with CTCL and The Elections Group to develop an “improvement plan.” Grant agreements restrict how counties may spend CTCL grants and require recipients to send the private nonprofit an after-action report no later than January 2025.

Notes taken in July 2022 by a Brunswick County, North Carolina, official clearly detail this two-way relationship:

Schedule a visit this fall. It’s an assessment, take a snapshot of our operations. This is current state, what is future state. Put together an improvement plant [plan]. Drafted by elections group. I will have input and approval. Goal is 1stQ [1st quarter] 2023. [emphasis added]

It’s no surprise, then, that the left-wing group Democracy North Carolina encourages membership in the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence as part of its “push for progressive changes to election laws and procedures.”

It’s still unclear what the Alliance’s end goal is, but these discoveries strongly suggest that CTCL intends to infiltrate and retool election policy in counties across America. Where will it strike next?

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to updated this report as we receive new information.

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is a Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. He is also a columnist at the Washington Free Beacon and writes regularly for the American Conservative. Ludwig is…
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