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  • Writer's pictureBrett Simpson

State passes law prohibiting outside money from being used to fund election operations

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Reposted from KXTS ABC 12 July 15, 2022

HARRISBURG, PA. (TND) — The state of Pennsylvania has passed a law prohibiting third-party entities, such as nonprofits, from giving the government money to help it run elections.

The bill, SB 982, was among a litany of others signed by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf this week.

State and local governments, including their public officers, public officials, employees and agents, acting in their official capacity, may not solicit, apply for, enter into a contract for or receive or expend gifts, donations, grants or funding from any individual, business, organization, trust, foundation, or any nongovernmental entity for the registration of voters or the preparation, administration or conduction of an election in this commonwealth,” the new law says.

Also included in the bill was the establishment of an “election integrity grant program” to be run by the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, which will provide funding “to counties for the administration of elections.” However, the money can only be used for certain authorized purposes laid out in the bill.

We believe reform begins with prohibiting private groups from funding election administration. Voting is among our basic rights, and the responsibility for properly running and funding elections is vested in government,” Republican Sen. Lisa Baker, the bill’s primary sponsor, told The Federalist. “No matter who on the outside is contributing, no matter their expressed motivations, millions of dollars coming in from national figures or organizations naturally raises suspicions of hidden agendas.

State and local governments accepting private money to run their elections became a major point of contention after it was revealed Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, injected hundreds of millions of dollars into state and local elections operations in 2020.

The money was funneled through Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). Critics have argued the over $400 million Zuckerberg gave was significant in helping Joe Biden win key swing states in 2020.

CTCL gave grants to 10 of the 13 counties Biden won statewide, one of which (Erie County) flipped from Trump’s 2016 column. Together, these 10 counties received $20.8 million, or over 83 percent of all CTCL grants to Pennsylvania,” a report from the Capital Research Center found. “In contrast, CTCL gave grants to 12 of the 54 counties Trump won statewide. These 12 counties received just $1.73 million, a mere 7 percent of all CTCL funds in the Keystone state.

As of this month, 21 states have banned or restricted the use of private funds for election offices, according to the Capital Research Center, while 6 governors – all Democrats – have vetoed potential bans.

While Governor Wolf signed SB 982 into law this week, he vetoed a separate election security bill from Republicans last week related to poll watchers.

Read more HERE.

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