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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a law to ban donations to county elections offices, with the legislation coming after Republicans in the state and nationally called for limiting outside election money after the 2020 presidential election.
The new law makes it a felony for local governments in the state to take money from nonprofit organizations, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The legislation comes after the Center for Tech and Civic Life, funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, contributed more than $400 million toward election offices across the country, with $45 million going to local election offices in Georgia.
“Senate Bill 222 builds on previous law to ensure that our election operations are never bought and paid for by partisan or special interests,” said former Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who founded Greater Georgia, a voter registration organization. “This critical measure levels the playing field for election boards across our state and safeguards them from outside influence.”
With Kemp signing the bill into law, Georgia becomes the 24th state since the 2020 election to enact a law on the use of private funding for running elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Democrats and voting rights groups said the ban will mean underfunded elections and longer lines unless more taxpayer money is spent.
Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director for the New Georgia Project Action Fund, a voter registration group, called the new rule “anti-democratic.”
While most of the money coming into Georgia from the Center for Tech and Civic Life went to Democrat-leaning counties, in 2020, grants went to Republican areas as well, and were used to pay for mail-in ballot processing machines, protective gear for election workers, absentee ballot postage costs, and election staffing.
Already this year, DeKalb County, a Democrat stronghold, has gotten a $2 million grant from the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, which includes the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
Under the legislation, DeKalb will be able to keep the $2 million grant, which was previously allowed under state law.
But moving forward, county government officials accepting outside money could face felony charges, be fined $10,000, and face at least a year in prison.
The ban passed the General Assembly along party lines and became the latest change to the state’s election laws since former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden there.
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