Grants tied to Facebook boosted Democrats in Pennsylvania, report says

Private grants connected to Facebook helped local election offices in 2020 and skewed heavily in favor of Democratic-leaning counties in Pennsylvania, a new report claimed.

The Center for Tech and Civic Life doled out more money per registered voter to Democratic counties than Republican counties in the battleground state, an analysis by the publication Broad + Liberty said.

Blue counties not only got more from the organization but were given a jumpstart on the grant information by top-ranking state officials, Broad + Liberty concluded, citing emails obtained through open records requests.

The center, boosted by a whopping $300 million donation from Facebook head honcho Mark Zuckerberg, has been accused of similar unequal distribution of its grants in various states though officials deny the claim and note the application for assistance was open to everyone.

But the analysis shows counties like Mifflin and Mercer and getting 66 cents and 73 cents per voter, respectively, while Democratic counties like Philadelphia and Centre received $8.87 per voter and $7.70 per voter, according to the analysis.

Alleghany County, where Pittsburgh is located, got $2.18 per voter, the analysis concluded.

Votes are counted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Election Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 3, 2020.
Votes are counted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Election Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 3, 2020.
REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

“Pennsylvania’s experience with private election grants should be evidence enough for lawmakers across the country to regulate their use and to view handouts from unvetted private organizations with healthy suspicion,” Broad + Liberty CEO Terry Tracy wrote in The Federalist.

“Americans deserve to have confidence that elections are being conducted fairly. Private election grants only reinforce the perception of systemic fraud and fan the flames of partisan division.”

The publication’s open-records requests showed the former Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and an aide to Gov. Tom Wolf inviting Democrats in places like Bucks County to apply for the grant – but Tracy said the requests didn’t produce equivalent emails to Republican-led counties.

Jeri Shuits, center, office manager for the Beaver County Board of Elections, walks between election workers preparing ballots for counting in the basement of the Beaver County Courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020,
Red-leaning counties like Mifflin and Mercer and getting 66 cents and 73 cents per voter.
Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

The GOP-leaning counties were eventually told of the grants and did get money, but only after Zuckerberg’s huge donation came on Sept. 1, 2020 – weeks before the election.

Donations from Zuckerberg to the center and another group, the Center for Election Innovation and Research, were said to be aimed to help promote voter access amid an unprecedented amount of mail-in ballots amid pandemic restrictions and concerns in the days before any vaccines had been approved.

A spokesman for Zuckerberg had previously told The Post that the funding came after an open call and all jurisdictions that applied received funding.

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Donations from Mark Zuckerberg were said to be aimed to help promote voter access.
REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

“Nearly 2,500 election jurisdictions from 49 states applied for and received funds, including urban, suburban, rural, and exurban counties,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

Still, reports of the perceived inequity from “Zuckerbucks” have led to calls in some states to ban private funding for election offices.

Pennsylvania went for Democrat Barack Obama in both elections, before swinging red for Donald Trump in 2020. President Joe Biden won the state in 2020.

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