Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill on Wednesday prohibiting local election offices from accepting and using private funds to conduct elections.
SB 222 stipulates that all “costs and expenses related to conducting primaries, elections, runoffs, or other undertakings authorized or required by [state law] shall be paid from lawfully appropriated public funds.”
“[N]o county or municipal government, government employee, or election official shall solicit, take, or otherwise accept from any person a contribution, donation, service, or anything else of value for the purpose of conducting primaries or elections or in support of performing his or her duties under this chapter,” the measure reads. The bill passed the state Senate (32-21) and House of Representatives (100-69) in March.
SB 222 was introduced in February after DeKalb County, a Democrat stronghold, announced it had been selected to join the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence after the county’s commissioners accepted a $2 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). As The Federalist reported, the Alliance is an $80 million, five-year initiative launched last year by left-wing nonprofits to “systematically influence every aspect of election administration” and advance Democrat-backed voting policies in local election offices.
While Georgia Republicans passed a law (SB 202) in 2021 banning the private funding of local election offices, DeKalb officials used a loophole in the statute to justify accepting the grant from the Alliance. Instead of having their election office accept the funds, DeKalb officials had the county’s finance department apply for the grant. As Democrat and DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections Chair Dele Lowman Smith admitted, this was done “since election offices are not allowed to receive grants directly.”
Emails later obtained by The Federalist unearthed how DeKalb officials were working to acquire Alliance funds nearly a year before the county’s partnership with the coalition was announced to the public.
During the 2020 election, nonprofits such as the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) received hundreds of millions of dollars from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. These “Zuckbucks” were poured into local election offices in battleground states around the country to change how elections were administered, such as by expanding unsupervised election protocols like mail-in voting and the use of ballot drop boxes. Notably, the grants were heavily skewed toward Democrat-majority counties, essentially making it a massive, privately funded Democrat get-out-the-vote operation.
Georgia received $45 million from CTCL during the 2020 cycle, with more than 94 percent ($42.4 million) of such funds going towards 17 of the 31 counties won by Joe Biden. DeKalb County received the second largest grant per capita, beaten only by nearby Clayton County.
Ken Blackwell, the chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for Election Integrity, applauded Kemp for signing SB 222, saying the law makes “it easy to vote but hard to cheat.”
“Even though the intent of the original law was clear, dark money progressive groups were taking advantage of loopholes to continue funneling private money into elections administration. This new law shuts the door to that practice once and for all,” Blackwell said. “Allowing private money to fund elections administration opens the door for partisan influence in elections, which is unfair to voters, who all deserve to be treated equally.”
Georgia’s state election board has since launched an investigation into DeKalb County, presumably over its Alliance membership and acceptance of CTCL grant money.