Deception & Misdirection
The Left’s Plot to Take Over Election Administration: U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence
U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence
In April, the same month Clerk Work was launched, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) Executive Director Tianna Epps-Johnson announced the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative would no longer be donating to CTCL to fund election administration after his donations prompted about two dozen states to ban similar private donations for running elections in the future. Not long after, Zuckerberg’s spokesperson confirmed he was out of the election-financing business.
Almost immediately, the center moved on to the next project.
Although the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is a coalition of left-leaning election “reform” groups, it was launched by CTCL, which became famous in 2020 for accepting $350 million from Zuckerberg to dole out to various election jurisdictions. Critics contend the supposed election safety grants did not go to personal protective equipment, but mostly for promoting mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes. An investigation by a Wisconsin special counsel appointed by the state House of Representatives produced a report finding that the funding led to an improper, government-sanctioned, get-out-the-vote campaign that favored Democrats.
Zuckerberg gave a total of $419 million for election administration grants, the bulk to CTCL, and the rest to the Center for Election Innovation and Research.
There was little doubt where the CTCL stood before Zuckerberg made the donations. The center was founded in 2012 by Tiana Epps-Johnson, Donny Bridges, and Whitney May, who previously worked together at the New Organizing Institute, which the Washington Post referred to as “the Democratic Party’s Hogwarts of digital wizardry.”
Another key member is the Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), which is a front group for the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) arm of the Arabella Advisors network. Arabella Advisors sponsors a vast network of left-leaning organizations, primarily through the 501(c)(3) New Venture Fund and the 501(c)(4) Sixteen Thirty Fund. Many of these organizations are pop-up organizations that exist for the duration of an election cycle while others spin off to become independent nonprofits.
The alliance—an $80 million, five-year initiative—opened applications for local election offices to get training for at least two years on the election process and be certified “U.S. Centers for Election Excellence” upon completion.
In the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion of the website—perhaps recalling the criticism over the Zuckerberg money—the alliance says it will give “guidance and resources” to election officials criticized for accepting the national money.
“As part of the alliance, centers will receive training, mentorship, and resources, and serve as a support system for each other and election departments across the country,” the website says.
Local election officials are the expert on what their voters need, and the alliance will work with each center to fill in the gaps. This could look like redesigning a form so it’s more likely a voter will successfully complete it or updating an election website so it is mobile-friendly and answers voters’ top questions.
Besides the formerly Zuckerberg-aligned CTCL and the Arabella-sponsored CSME, the other partner organizations have left-leaning ties.
One partner is the Elections Group, a consulting firm run by two former Democratic county elections officials to give “guidance” for election offices on ballot curing, all-mail elections systems, and ballot drop boxes. It was established in 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center for Civic Design advocates for making the expanded mail-in voting used in 2020 a permanent feature of all future elections and has advised the National Vote at Home Institute. With funding from liberal billionaire and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, this group focuses primarily on redesigning ballots to make voting easier for perceived Democrat constituencies, such as recent immigrants, ethnic minorities, and young people.
Other partners are the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, located at Stanford University, part of the university’s school of engineering; the Prototyping Systems Lab, based at the University of California, Davis, which focuses on designing technology; and the U.S. Digital Response, started during the pandemic to help with state and local governments’ digital needs.
Given the background of most of these organizations, it seems difficult to believe their motives are purely benevolent. The groups generally support more mail-in voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day registration, with no partner groups seemingly concerned about election security measures such as voter ID.
A report by the election integrity watchdog Public Interest Legal Foundation said the CTCL won’t be deterred by a lack of Zuckerberg grants. “In fact, the CTCL is expanding. They are launching a new venture called the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, which promises an $80 million grant fund for local election officials to tap for aid,” the legal foundation report says. “This represents only a shallow representation of the parallel ecosystem of left-leaning nonprofits standing ready to financially support and augment government administration of elections.”
This “training” is likely to reflect the political views of the groups in the alliance. The alliance also has a lot of questions to answer about who is doing the training. While this is different than giving large sums of cash to an election office, someone is paying big money for these coaches to fan out to election offices across the United States. This seems to be a little more than an end run around the state Zuckerbucks bans.
In the next installment, a “tech-heavy group” becomes the major funder of the alliance.