Wisconsin Voters Approve Ban on Private Election Funding

Ballot measure was part of backlash to 'Zuckerbucks'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 2, 2024 9:02 PM CDT
Wisconsin Voters Approve Ban on Private Election Funding
Three-year-old K-Lee waits as her mother Heather Ramsey votes Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Private money to fund elections will be banned in Wisconsin after voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday put forward by Republicans. Voters also approved a second question put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature that amends the constitution to say that only election officials can administer elections, the AP reports. That's already state law, but putting it in the constitution makes it more difficult to repeal or change. Democrats opposed both measures, which they argued would make it more difficult to conduct elections in the presidential battleground state

Both constitutional amendments on the ballot were in reaction to grant money that came to Wisconsin in 2020 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a liberal group that fights for voter access. That year it received a $300 million donation from Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan to help election officials buy supplies and run elections at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic before vaccines were available. The state's five largest cities, all of which President Biden won, received $8.8 million. They were among roughly 200 communities in Wisconsin that received around $10 million as part of $350 million given out nationally.

Republicans who dubbed the money "Zuckerbucks" complained the bulk of the funds went to Democratic strongholds and claimed it was an attempt by the billionaire to tip the vote in favor of Democrats. The argument came amid false claims made by Donald Trump and his supporters that widespread voter fraud led to Biden's 2020 win. The Wisconsin measures were supported by Republicans and conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Election Integrity for Wisconsin. They were opposed by an array of government watchdog and liberal groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause Wisconsin, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

(More Wisconsin stories.)

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