Wisconsin Bans Election Funding Similar to ‘Zuckerbuck’

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Wisconsin voters have approved a constitutional amendment that will ban private money for funding elections. This measure, put forward by Republicans, was a reaction to grants received in 2020 that were financed by donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Additionally, voters approved a second question on the ballot proposed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, amending the Constitution to state that only election officials can administer elections. While this is already a state law, enshrining it in the constitution makes it more challenging to alter or repeal.

Democrats opposed both measures, arguing that they would hinder the electoral process in the pivotal state.

These constitutional amendments were in response to grant money received by Wisconsin in 2020 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a liberal organization advocating for voter access. That year, the organization received a $300 million donation from Zuckerberg and his wife to assist election officials in purchasing supplies and running elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans criticized the funds, often referred to as “Zuckerbucks,” alleging that they disproportionately benefited Democratic strongholds and insinuating that it was an effort by the billionaire to influence the election in favor of Democrats. This claim emerged amid baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud following the 2020 election.

Since 2020, Republicans in 27 states have implemented restrictions on private election grants.

Support for the Wisconsin measures came from Republicans and conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and Election Integrity for Wisconsin, while opposition stemmed from government watchdog and liberal organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

No Democrat lawmakers backed the amendment, which was divided into two questions on the ballot. Opponents fear that the amendments could result in efforts to limit current practices that promote voter participation.

Multiple courts and the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission dismissed complaints challenging the legality of the grant money.

Given that the constitutional amendments bypassed Democrat Gov. Tony Evers, who likely would have vetoed them, they were passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Constitutional amendments do not require the governor’s approval.

Wisconsin voters have previously approved 148 out of 200 proposed constitutional amendments since the state constitution’s adoption in 1848, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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