Just because Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would not fund election administration again does not mean the group he and his wife gave the bulk of their $419 million in donations to won’t. In April, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) announced that it was shifting to a new model. The organization will join with several others and spend $80 million over the next five years “to help meet the needs of election departments across the country,” according to Tianna Epps-Johnson, CTCL Executive Director.
Epps-Johnson described the new group, the Alliance for Election Excellence (the Alliance), as a non-partisan collaboration of election officials, technologists, and other experts working across all 50 states to improve election processes. The Audacious Project at TED funds the Alliance. The Audacious Project’s list of 2021-2022 award recipients displays an obvious left-wing slant:
The 2021-2022 recipients are The Center for Tech and Civic Life, ClimateWorks: Drive Electric, Code for America, Glasswing International, The International Refugee Assistance Project, myAgro, Noora Health, The Tenure Facility, and Woodwell Climate Research Center.
Epps-Johnson’s mischaracterization could result from left-wing blindness that makes coalition members oblivious to their own bias, but “non-partisan” is not an accurate description. Epps-Johnson was an inaugural Obama Foundation intern and served as the Elections Director of the New Organizing Institute (NOI). The CTCL is the successor organization of NOI and an example of how left-wing nonprofits change their names and keep their leaders. The new Alliance also includes decidedly left-wing organizations:
At least one of the groups, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), was created as a project of the New Venture Fund. The group’s lobbying arm, CSME Action, is a project of the 1630 Fund. New Venture and the 1630 Fund are part of the network of nonprofits run by Arabella advisors. If you have not heard of Arabella Advisors, it funnels hundreds of millions of dollars through a complex web of nonprofits to support left-wing causes. Even the New York Times refers to the firm as a dark money group:
The Hub Project is part of an opaque network managed by a Washington consulting firm, Arabella Advisors, that has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through a daisy chain of groups supporting Democrats and progressive causes. The system of political financing, which often obscures the identities of donors, is known as dark money, and Arabella’s network is a leading vehicle for it on the left.
The Center for Civic Design advocates for automatic registration and all-mail-in voting. It asserts that poor ballot design sways elections in favor of Republicans. Co-founders Whitney Queensbury and Dana Chisnell hail from the Brennan Center and the Obama administration. It also donated to the CTCL.
The Elections Group partners with the CTCL, Center for Civic Design, and other groups like the Vote at Home Project. It was established in 2020 to”help” election offices implement alternative ways of voting during the pandemic. It offers guidance on mail-in and absentee ballot processing, implementing ballot drop boxes, signature verification, and the ballot curing process, adapting polling places to new health and safety policies, ballot reconciliation, post-election audits, and communication strategies.
U.S. Digital Response also popped up in 2020 to provide volunteer technical expertise. They partnered with elections offices to develop or enhance tools and gave CTCL a reusable election website template. The group also received funding from the Zuckerbergs. Add in a few university programs with inherent left-wing biases, and it’s clear that this collaboration is not a non-partisan project.
Many states rolled back pandemic-related election procedures through legislation after 2020. Several states also prohibited election offices from taking private grants and other outside funding. CTCL’s modus operandi during the 2020 election provided grants that came with strings attached.
According to Jason Snead, Executive Director of Honest Elections, the Alliance will disseminate best practices, operating procedures, templates, and other resources to election offices to work around the new laws. Where grants are still legal, they could still be on the table. The goal is to build a network of election officials and influence the way elections are administered through operational guidance.
Another group is planning to fill the local election offices with progressive candidates. Several Hillary Clinton staffers started Run for Something after she lost in 2016. The organizers intended to build a pipeline of progressive candidates to fill local and state offices. Now the organization’s goal is to run 5,000 candidates for local offices in charge of election administration.
The “Clerk Work” program is the equivalent of the Soros project to elect progressive district attorneys and prosecutors in Snead’s estimation. Politico reports that Run for Something has notched a 42% win rate and has supported 639 winning candidates since 2017. And now it will be running a roster of election officials it can hand over to The Alliance for “operational guidance”:
Run for Something is working in coordination with other Democratic groups on “Clerk Work.” Partners include American Bridge, a Democratic group that compiles and shares opposition research, and Open Democracy PAC, a super PAC that’s spending on advertising to boost these candidates.
“These organizations are engaged in what can charitably be called credibility laundering,” Snead warned. “They engage with bipartisan groups and promote ostensibly Republican allies. However, their funding and agenda are distinctly left-wing.”
The Alliance ended its call for local election offices to join on May 16. Even if you live in a red district, it is time to find out if your local office signed up and to volunteer to work the midterms. While Mark Zuckerberg may not give a dime to these efforts, his donations in 2020 helped build the framework these left-wing groups are leveraging today. That legacy is a significant reason why Republicans will be playing another insidious game of Election Integrity Whack-a-Mole in 2022 and 2024.