Florida continued to prove itself as a conservative mecca this week when an election reform bill became law.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill that notably prohibits private money from running elections, known to some as Zuckerbucks. It will effectively cut off the influence of millions of dollars of private grant money in several Florida counties.
“No agency or state or local official responsible for conducting elections, including, but not limited to, a supervisor of elections, may solicit, accept, use, or dispose of any donation in the form of money, grants, property, or personal services from an individual or a nongovernmental entity for the purpose of funding election-related expenses or voter education, voter outreach, or registration programs,” the law read.
The new legislation also included a requirement that voters produce identification. Voter ID is a concept that is curiously controversial when it’s commonplace for people to be required to produce identification to board a plane, buy alcohol or cigarettes or apply for food stamps.
Other provisions include banning ballot harvesting, prohibiting the mass mailing of ballots, and increasing election transparency. The GOP governor signed the bill live during a segment on Fox News’ morning show, “Fox & Friends.”
(Video: Fox News)
The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), financed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, doled out almost $400 million last year, purportedly to help election jurisdictions with COVID-19 expenses, according to Fox News. However, the money appeared to flood into mostly liberal areas of the country and allegedly helped pay for “voter education”, polling places, and ballot drop boxes, among other things.
Two Florida counties received over $9 million in grant money from CTCL. Palm Beach County reportedly received $6.8 million and had received permission from CTCL last week to spend the remaining money over the next two years. Miami-Dade county got $2.4 million on Oct. 15 but didn’t use any of the money and reportedly plans to return it, according to Fox News.
“We will not use or dispose of any unspent funds now that the law is in effect,” Miami-Dade County assistant deputy supervisor Robert Rodriguez told Fox News. Although the money was earmarked for additional election equipment, Rodriguez confirmed that “the unspent funds will be returned.”
The Florida-based government watchdog, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), praised the new legislation.
“The Florida Legislature prohibited third party funding of local government election offices for one simple reason: to restore Florida voters’ trust in the integrity of the election process,” Tarren Bragdon, CEO of FGA, said in a statement. “The governor and legislature have made protecting elections a top priority, and I applaud their efforts to make Florida the most accessible, transparent, and efficient election system in the country.”
FGA conducted a study in February that revealed 78% of counties that received grant money from CTCL voted in favor of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. In stark contrast, only 7% of counties that Trump carried received grants from CTCL. In Leon County, which accepted $1.4 million in “Zuckerbucks,” Democrats increased voter participation by 12%.
Although former President Trump carried his home state of Florida in the 2020 presidential election, the FGA research indicates that the Zuckerberg-backed money was likely responsible for boosting Joe Biden’s voter turnout.
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