Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan donate further $100 million for safe voting efforts

getty: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, on Tuesday announced they would donate $100 million to shore up election security efforts, a month after the couple donated $300 million for the same issue. 

Zuckerberg announced the donation in a Facebook post Tuesday, noting that the funds will go to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which received $250 million as part of the previous donation by Zuckerberg and Chan. Another $50 million from the previous donation went to the Center for Election Innovation and Research to help secretaries of state across the nation boost election security efforts. 

The two donations together total $400 million, the same amount appropriated by Congress this year for state and local election officials to address challenges to elections posed by COVID-19. 

Zuckerberg wrote that the CTCL had received applications from around 2,100 jurisdictions for the funds, which are meant to assist in recruiting and training poll workers along with ensuring polling sites have the voting equipment needed. 

“Voting is the foundation of democracy,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s how we express our voice and make sure our country is heading in the direction we want. Priscilla and I remain determined to ensure that every state and local election jurisdiction has the resources they need so Americans can vote.”

According to Zuckerberg, most of the applications for the previous funds were from voting jurisdictions with less than 25,000 registered voters, but Zuckerberg emphasized that “all qualified jurisdictions that apply for the funds will be approved. 

Both donations from Zuckerberg and Chan were made in the midst of ongoing debate over elections-related appropriations on Capitol Hill.

The CARES Act coronavirus stimulus package, signed into law by President Trump in March, appropriated $400 million to states to address election challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This amount was on top of over $800 million appropriated by Congress since 2018 to address election security concerns. 

State and local officials have repeatedly requested that Congress appropriate more funds, with experts estimating states need a total of $4 billion to adequately address new challenges to elections from COVID-19, such as poll worker shortages and an increase in mail-in ballots. 

The House-passed HEROES Act stimulus package included $3.6 billion for election efforts, but versions of a second stimulus bill from Senate Republicans have left out election funds

Zuckerberg emphasized that he agreed “with those who say that government should have provided these funds, not private citizens.”

“I hope that for future elections the government provides adequate funding,” he added. “But absent that funding, I think it’s critical that this urgent need is met.”

Zuckerberg and Facebook have been heavily criticized in the years since 2016, when the Internet Research Agency, a Russian government-sponsored troll farm, used the platform as part of a disinformation campaign designed to sway the election in favor of President Trump. Facebook later estimated that up to 150 million U.S. users were exposed to the disinformation ahead of the 2016 general election. 

The company has also faced criticism that it is not tough enough in addressing misinformation in posts from world leaders, including those from President Trump. 

Facebook has taken action to address ongoing misinformation and disinformation from both foreign and domestic sources, including announcing a policy in June to label but leave up “newsworthy” posts, including those from politicians. 

Facebook has also expanded labels on posts around voting, created an election center on Facebook to serve as a central hub for voting information, and vowed to remove any posts that show evidence of coordinated election interference through voter intimidation or spreading false information around polling sites.

“Voting is voice, and we believe every American should have the chance to make their voice heard in this election,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Tags Donald Trump Election Security Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan

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