The Dallas County Elections Department will receive a $15.1 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a nonprofit organization funded by Mark Zuckerberg, as the elections department’s administrator finishes out a tenure rife with controversy.
Harris County Commissioners also narrowly voted to accept a similar grant from CTCL this week.
CTCL states that its mission is to “connect Americans with the information they need to become and remain civically engaged, and ensure that our elections are more professional, inclusive, and secure.”
The nonprofit organization received hundreds of millions of dollars from Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
“Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg have committed $250M to CTCL, which we will regrant to local election jurisdictions across the country to help ensure that they will have the staffing, training, and equipment necessary so that this November every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted,” CTCL stated in a post on September 1.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) praised the grant in a statement and criticized Gov. Greg Abbott as well as the Texas Legislature for policies such as restricting mail-in ballot use and abolishing straight-ticket voting.
“The over $15 million grant from [CTCL] to our Dallas County Elections Department for this general election acknowledges the challenges we face and provides resources to ensure your vote counts and we have a safe and secure election this November,” Jenkins said.
Generally speaking, while Republicans contend that eliminating straight-ticket voting will encourage voters to make more informed choices on each contest, Democrats assert that it is an unnecessary inconvenience and will create logjam at polling places, increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Facebook has been one of several social media giants that have come under criticism for their alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints.
In fact, President Trump issued an executive order in May calling for an inquiry into social media companies that claim to be a neutral “bulletin board” of sorts but then restrict the expression of certain political views.“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see,” the executive order stated.
Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole has also been criticized for mismanagement of her department and announced in July that she would resign after this election cycle.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.