- The US Congress had allocated a fund in March owing to the changed voter behaviour during the pandemic.
- Election experts had estimated it could cost $4 billion to make all the changes.
- Zuckerberg noted that he agreed with those who say that the government should have provided the funds and not private citizens.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan will donate an additional $100 million to help local election offices prepare for November US presidential elections. This contribution, along with the previous one from Zuckerberg and Chan to fund the election infrastructure makes for a total contribution of $400 million.
The US Congress had allocated a fund in March owing to the changed voter behavior during the pandemic, news agency AP reported. Election experts had estimated it could cost $4 billion to make all the changes, but Senate Republicans did not act on a relief bill from the Democratic-controlled House that included $3.6 billion to help voting officials. Zuckerberg and Chan filled in the remaining gap through their contributions to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a non-profit.
However, these contributions are not going well with certain groups. A Republican legal group late last week announced it has filed lawsuits in nine swing states against these donations. Phill Kline of the Thomas More Society's Amistad Project in a statement said that the litigation called the donations "an insidious, coordinated, and stealth campaign to manipulate this year's elections."
Zuckerberg, in a post on Facebook, acknowledged the controversy. "Since our initial donation, there have been multiple lawsuits filed in an attempt to block these funds from being used, based on claims that the organisations receiving donations have a partisan agenda," Zuckerberg wrote. "That's false. These funds will serve communities throughout the country, urban, rural and suburban, and are being allocated by non-partisan organisations."
Zuckerberg further noted that he agreed with those who say that the government should have provided the funds and not private citizens. "I hope that for future elections the government provides adequate funding. But absent that funding, I think it's critical that this urgent need is met."
Zuckerberg and Chan have previously contributed for election infrastructure in September with $300 million. The report noted that donors had already been contributing to CTCL and that it is receiving contributions from Facebook Founders
"We've seen massive interest in the COVID-19 Response Grant program over the last month from over 2,100 election officials who are seeking funding to ensure safe, health election options for voters in every corner of the country," Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director of CTCL said in a statement. The money will pay for protective equipment to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling sites, drive-thru voting locations, equipment to process mail ballots and more.