Two Utah counties withdraw from ‘Zuckerbucks’ coalition after North Carolina counties leave

“Four counties have now withdrawn from the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence in as many months – a quarter of its original members – and at this pace, it would not surprise me if more follow suit before November,” Jason Snead said.
An election worker prints a ballot out for a voter at the Utah County Justice and Health center on November 8, 2022 in Provo, Utah.

Two Utah counties withdrew from a "Zuckerbucks" nonprofit — where private money is injected into public election administration — following North Carolina counties’ exit from the group late last year.

Cache and Weber counties in Utah have left the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, a project of the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), after joining it at the beginning of last year. The two Utah counties left after two North Carolina counties withdrew late last year citing the time commitment involved with the upcoming 2024 elections.

The alliance is awarding funds to counties and municipalities under its Centers for Election Excellence program. According to CTCL in 2022, the alliance is providing $80 million over five years "to envision, support, and celebrate excellence in U.S. election administration.”

The alliance aids elections offices that are part of its program by “identifying the election office’s unique challenges and goals, then, where permitted, we provide them with customized resources, coaching, implementation support, and grant funding to advance their nonpartisan goals related to improving the voting experience.”

The CTCL group lists just two examples of how voters benefit from the alliance’s assistance of elections offices: “1) redesigning a required form to help ensure that voters can more easily and accurately complete it; and 2) funding the purchase and renovation of an election operations building to improve election security and accessibility.”

CTCL poured about $350 million into local elections offices managing the 2020 election, with most of the funds donated to the nonprofit by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The nonprofit has claimed its 2020 election grants — colloquially known as "Zuckerbucks" — were allocated without partisan preference to make voting safer amid the pandemic.

However, a House Republican investigation found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Most of the funds were focused on get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations.

Following controversy surrounding the disproportionate private funding funneled to Democratic jurisdictions and claims the imbalance helped sway the 2020 election in Biden's favor, 27 states have either restricted or banned the use of private money to fund elections, while 12 counties have also restricted or banned the funds, according to the Capital Research Center.

Utah enacted a law in 2022 that banned “Zuckerbucks.” While Weber County doesn’t appear to have posted an announcement online about leaving the alliance, the county is no longer listed on the alliance’s website.

Neither the Weber County clerk/auditor nor elections director responded to requests for comment. CTCL also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cache County is also absent from the alliance’s website. On Feb. 12, Cache County Clerk/Auditor David Benson sent an email to CTCL in an attempt to contact the nonprofit and inform them that his county isn’t renewing its membership with the alliance, The Federalist reported last month.

“Cache County no longer desires to participate in your program,” Benson wrote. “Our previous membership was initiated sometime in 2022 or early 2023, and expired in December 2023. We did not, nor do we intend at this point, to renew that membership. We have not received an invoice for any services in 2024, so I believe all is in order.”

He also asked to have Cache County removed from the alliance’s website, as he said it was still listed at the time.

Benson told Just the News on Tuesday: “Our 2023 membership expired in December 2023. We did not renew as the benefits did not justify the expense.” He also explained that the previous clerk/auditor paid $1,600 to be a member of the alliance.

Benson also told The Federalist the alliance’s membership was “a cost incurred by [his] predecessor that [he] did not think warranted renewal” and that “there was simply not enough value to justify the expense.”

Jason Snead, Executive Director of Honest Elections Project, told Just the News on Tuesday that the remaining localities should leave the alliance.

“Four counties have now withdrawn from the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence in as many months – a quarter of its original members – and at this pace, it would not surprise me if more follow suit before November,” Snead said.

“Clearly, election officials do not find the Alliance to be worth their while, and some even report that they don’t have the time to run elections and keep up with the Alliance’s requirements. Election officials should be focused on serving their constituents rather than left-wing get-out-the-vote operations like the Alliance,” he continued. “I encourage the remaining enrolled municipalities and counties to end their relationship with the Alliance immediately.”