(September 2, 2020 Philanthropy News Digest) With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every aspect of the 2020 elections, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have announced commitments totaling $300 million in support of efforts to promote safe and reliable voting in November.
To that end, the couple has pledged $250 million to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to ensure that counties have the staff, training, and equipment they need to ensure that every eligible voter can vote and every vote is counted. CTCL will regrant the funds to local jurisdictions to cover the cost of poll workers (including hazard pay and training), the purchase of personal protective equipment for poll workers, the hiring of temporary staff, polling place rent, ballot processing equipment, voter outreach, and support for drive-through voting. The organization has issued an open call to local election officials in every state offering support for the above activities and will allocate funds at the county and municipal level to support work already in progress.
Chan and Zuckerberg also committed $50 million to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), which supports the efforts of state and local election officials to ensure that their elections are secure, voters have confidence in the process, and civic engagement does not suffer. CEIR will use the funding to support the efforts of secretaries of state — in both red and blue states — to ensure that their electoral systems are secure and that voters are informed about the voter registration process, voting by mail and early voting options, poll locations and hours, and the vote-counting process.
"Voting is the ultimate way we hold our leaders accountable and make sure our country is heading in the direction we want," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "It is critical for our democracy that we all have confidence in the integrity and legitimacy of our elections, and that means having confidence that our country has the infrastructure to make sure every voter can make their voice heard."
"State election officials are facing unprecedented challenges during this election season," said CEIR executive director David Becker. "The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in election options and procedures different than voters have ever seen, while the threat of disinformation could greatly diminish voters’ confidence in [the] democratic process. This donation will greatly assist election officials as they seek to inform voters about their voting options and any changes, educate them about how they can successfully ensure their ballot is received and counted, and bolster transparency and legitimacy."