A judge in Wisconsin has ruled that one of Mark Zuckerburg’s attempts to impact elections on behalf of Democrats is illegal. In 2022, Democratic allies launched a “mobile voting unit” to collect ballots. The scheme involved using a van marked as “in-person absentee ballots” throughout Racine County, a battleground in the Dairy State.
Racine officials, the Democratic National Committee and the Milwaukee-based voting advocacy group Black Leaders Organizing for Communities refuted those claims and defended the legality of the van, saying there was no specific prohibition against it.
The lawsuit over the mobile voting van is one of several in battleground Wisconsin that could affect voting rules in the upcoming presidential election.
The van was first used in Racine’s municipal elections in 2022. It was purchased with grant money Racine received from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, the nonprofit created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. Republicans have been critical of the grants, calling the money “Zuckerbucks” that they say was used to tilt turnout in Democratic areas.
The van was used only to facilitate early in-person voting during the two weeks prior to an election, Racine City Clerk Tara McMenamin said. She said the vehicle was useful because it was becoming too cumbersome for her staff to set up their equipment in remote polling sites.
It traveled across the city to meet voters in their neighborhoods and collect early ballots, writes CBS News.
“This ruling is a win for election integrity. As Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, I’m committed to increasing voters’ confidence and stopping any attempts to weaponize election administration rules to tilt the scales in favor of any candidate or political party. The Racine mobile van was a blatant, partisan attempt to use Zuckerbucks to increase Democratic voter turnout. I applaud Judge Gasiorkiewicz’s decision,” wrote Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, a Republican from Wisconsin.
The Foundation for Government Accountability has discussed the way that the Facebook founder and his wife have diligently worked to swing Wisconsin and other close states to the Democrats.
“During the 2020 presidential election, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—led by tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife—donated more than $400 million to local election offices in 47 states under the guise of alleviating the burden of COVID-19-related costs. The bulk of these funds were funneled through the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a left-leaning non-profit with significant ties to various progressive groups and the Obama administration.
While marketed as ‘COVID-19 Response Grants,’ in many states, these funds (or “Zuckerbucks”) appeared to have little to do with offsetting pandemic-related expenses. Instead, the infusion of cash went toward boosting Democrat turnout in several swing states. In fact, grants were disproportionately siphoned to left-leaning jurisdictions. For example, in Pennsylvania, nine out of every 10 dollars that flowed into the state went to counties that voted for Biden.7 And in Georgia, Biden counties got nearly four times more Zuckerbucks per registered voter than Trump counties.”
In Wisconsin, a state that helped tilt the election toward Trump in 2016 and was a major target for Biden in 2020, Zuckerberg’s foundation targeted heavily Democratic counties as the ones to “expand the vote.” The FGA noted that “the five most populous cities in Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine—received nearly $8.5 million of the more than $10 million in Zuckerbucks that were funneled into the state.”
Overall, the Zuckerberg family gave $419 million to two nonprofit organizations, which leaned towards Democrats and disbursed grants to over 2,500 election departments in 2020. After facing heavy criticism from Republicans, including bills proposed to ban his efforts, the Facebook founder announced that his spending was a “one-time donation” aimed at helping Americans vote during the pandemic.