by Sara Vieira, chapter leader of Fair Elections RI
According to their website, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) is a nationally recognized organization that, ostensibly, helps local election offices with their election operations. Along the way, CTCL became otherwise known as Zuckerbucks.
Per the image below, my organization, Fair Elections RI, has compiled documented proof based on research by Angela Cooke, that during the 2020 election cycle, CTCL issued $679,230 across all 39 towns and cities in Rhode Island.
Among many others, similar grant awards were made to:
- Warwick, $39,333
- Johnston, $13,845
- Westerly, $10,698
Is this kind of private funding to support government-run elections illegal? Not necessarily. But what was the money really used for? How was it spent? Was any partisan get-out-the-vote activity funded?
According to research by our national association of election integrity groups, Zuckerbucks grant money was given primarily to Democrat vicinities, we believe, in order to increase turnout of voters via mail ballot voter outreach with drop boxes as well as funding additional voting locations. Nationwide, tens of millions of grant money was spent in both red and blue states; however 90% was handed out in precincts and counties that are Democrat strongholds. When looking at the CTCL website, you may notice key funders and donors. Here’s a list of the key donors and funders:
Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, Rockefellar Brothers Fund, Center for Civic Design, Facebook, Google, Center for Democracy and Technology, Women’s Donor Network, Rock the Vote, and The Voting Information Project. All of these partners are known left leaning organizations. For instance, the Center for Tech Design, has Tiana Epps-Johnson on the board; Tiana Epps-Johnson is the founder and executive director of CTCL.
Let’s not forget that our Rhode Island Deputy of Elections, Norelys R. Consuegra, is also on the advisory board for CTCL. This is the equivalent of a person working in a school department or as a leader of the local teacher union also serving on the school committee for that school department.
It’s time to look under the hood to determine what has happened with our Ocean State elections, starting with the money. Asking questions from local election clerks and canvassing boards is a where we will start. Because of the recent increased scrutiny, many states are seeking to legislatively ban private money – like Zuckerbucks – to finance election operations.
In an attempt to further shield, a new organization has emerged, essentially as Zuckerbucks 2.0: the Alliance of Election Excellence. We don’t know yet if Rhode Island is participating in this Alliance, but asking questions will help get answers before the 2024 election cycle.