Arizona Bans Private Funding of Election Administration

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law on Friday that prohibits the private funding of election administration in the state.

Arizona is now the first state in the country that specifically prohibits the controversial private funding of election administration that was introduced to the American political process in the 2020 presidential election, when Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg contributed $419 million to two non-profit groups that in turn funded state, county, and local election administration, which critics say benefited Democrats unfairly.

“With public confidence in our elections in peril, it’s clear our elections must be pristine and above reproach — and the sole purview of government,” the Associated Press reported Ducey wrote in a letter expressing his reasons for signing the bill into law.

The bill, HB 2569, passed the Arizona House of Representatives in a straight party-line vote, 31 to 29, in March. Last week, it passed the Arizona State Senate, also in a straight party-line vote, 16 to 14.

Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson praised Gov. Ducey, a Republican, for signing the bill into law in a statement released late Friday:

Gov. Doug Ducey stood up for all Arizonans by taking swift action and signing this historic election integrity law. HB 2569 is another in a series of strong measures Arizona lawmakers have taken to protect election integrity and keep the influence of private money out of Arizona’s election system operations. Arizonans deserve an election process free from outside influence and partisan funding — by banning corporate and private funding for election operations, this law will safeguard that system.

State Rep. Jake Hoffman and the grassroots activists of Arizona worked hard to advance HB 2569 and other common-sense legislation to ensure Arizona’s elections are fair and transparent. As Arizona legislators continue working to pass further election integrity legislation, they should do so with the knowledge that they are supported by the people of Arizona.

The Associated Press reported that Arizona Democrats blamed underfunding by Republicans for Zuckerberg’s private funding of election administration in the state in 2020:

“It’s easy to make a boogeyman ou[t] of billionaires. I don’t like them either. But we put ourselves in this situation,” Sen. Juan Mendez, a Tempe Democrat, said of the Legislature’s budgeting decisions. “Our elections are so underfunded we’ve got counites out there asking for money to do voter outreach.”

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs used $4.8 million from the Center for Election Innovation and Research for an advertising campaign telling voters when and how to vote, encourage signup for the permanent early voting list, recruit poll workers and combat misinformation before and after the election.

Arizona Secretary of State Hobbs, a Democrat, was one of the state election officials in 23 states who accepted monies from the Zuckerberg-funded Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), as Breitbart News reported in November. The Secretary of State in eight of those states was a Republican, including Georgia, where Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accepted a “large grant” from CEIR.

As Breitbart News reported in December:

A report released by the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society at a press conference on Wednesday alleged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife made $419.5 million in contributions to non-profit organizations during the 2020 election cycle–$350 million to the “Safe Elections” Project of the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and another $69.5 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research–that, “improperly influence[d] the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party.”

“The 2020 presidential election witnessed an unprecedented and coordinated public-private partnership to improperly influence the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party. Funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other high-tech interests, activist organizations created a two-tiered election system that treated voters differently depending on whether they lived in Democrat or Republican strongholds,” Amistad Project Director Phill Kline wrote in the report’s executive summary.

According to a report released by the Foundation for Government Accountability in March, the CTCL spent more than $5 million in grants for election administration in nine Arizona counties in 2020:

While CTCL has not yet disclosed full details about how much was distributed to each grantee during the 2020 election, publicly available data shows that CTCL funneled more than $5 million into nine Arizona jurisdictions.8 Based on the preliminary numbers, a large share of that money was spent in counties carried by President Biden.9 Unsurprisingly, Maricopa County, the fourth most populous county in America and home to more than 60 percent of Arizona’s voters, received more than half of all Zuckerbucks distributed in the state. . .

While data is limited due to CTCL’s unwillingness to make full reports on grant allocations and spending public, initial analysis points to Zuckerbucks having an influence on election outcomes in Arizona. On average, counties that received Zuckerbucks saw the Democratic presidential candidate’s share of the vote increase compared to the 2016 election.

For example, in Maricopa County, the only county in the state to flip in the 2020 election, President Trump increased his vote total by more than 248,000 votes yet lost the county to Biden. In 2020, Biden improved on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote total in the county by more than 337,000 votes. This nearly 90,000-vote difference cannot be explained by registration increases. While Democratic voter registration in Maricopa County has grown more than Republican registration since the 2016 election, the net increase was fewer than 50,000 votes and registered Republicans still outnumber registered Democrats by more than 100,000 voters. In counties that went for Biden in 2020, Zuckerbucks seem to have helped boost Democratic turnout.

Several other state legislatures are considering bills to ban the private funding of election administration.

Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, signed into law by Gov. Kemp in March, included a clause designed to ban the private funding of election administration, but the Amistad Project’s Phill Kline believes that law may contain loopholes.

Kline has praised the simple one sentence language of Arizona’s new law–“Notwithstanding any other law, this state and a city, town, county, school district or other public body that conducts or administers elections may not receive or expend private monies for preparing for, administering or conducting an election, including registering voters” — as the gold standard and model for other states that seek to ban the private funding of election administration.



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