On Oct. 10, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto on critical election integrity legislation, Senate Bill 747. One aspect of the new law is a ban on accepting corrosive private funds for conducting elections, making North Carolina the 26th state to do so.
These bans are aimed at preventing ideologically biased groups such as the left-wing Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) from influencing election administration practices as they did in 2020 — with the controversy funds often called “Zuck bucks.”
During that contentious election, CTCL dumped $400 million, courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg, into election offices across the country. Over $7 million of that went to the North Carolina State Board of Elections and 31 of the state’s 100 county election boards. More money per capita went to Democratic strongholds and helped transform government offices into get-out-the-vote centers that targeted key liberal voting blocs.
CTCL is once again attempting to influence election administration through a new group they created called the US Alliance for Election Excellence, an $80 million program exposed by the Honest Elections Project and the John Locke Foundation. This new “Zuck Bucks 2.0” initiative was created specifically to get around state bans on private election funding so that a collection of left-wing, “dark money”-fueled nonprofits can continue to influence election administration and turn election offices — which are supposed to be neutral — into functional outposts of progressive politics.
Worse, the Alliance is a potential conduit for foreign influence of elections through funding from Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to the New Venture Fund. NVF is linked to Arabella Advisors, a Washington, DC-based consulting company seeking to flip North Carolina and other states blue permanently. It has funded CTCL and its Alliance partners.
County election offices that enroll in the Alliance receive legal and political consultation, public relations assistance, and guidance on recruitment and training. Once counties are enrolled, the Alliance gathers detailed information on the offices’ inner workings and provides specific “improvement plans” to reshape the way they operate.
In other words, the Alliance allows the left to have deep influence on election administration.
North Carolina is experiencing this problem firsthand. The Brunswick and Forsyth county boards of elections were among the first to join the Alliance. The left-wing group Democracy North Carolina praised their joining, linking the Alliance’s activities to their own “push for progressive changes to election laws and procedures.” In documents obtained through a public records request, Brunswick County Elections director Sara LaVere admitted that her social media posts were based on templates provided by an Alliance member and that two columns published under her name during the 2022 election were written “with assistance” from Alliance partner groups.
Nevertheless, the enactment of SB 747 — with the principle that election administration should be free of Zuck bucks–style influence — leaves them no excuse for remaining involved. The law is clearly intended to preserve the integrity and neutrality of election administration, both of which are essential for voter confidence.
The Brunswick and Forsyth election boards should withdraw from the Alliance and cease any collaborations with CTCL and its leftist Alliance partners. If they choose to stay in the program, that decision only proves how toxic the Alliance is to transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.
In fact, earlier this year, Brunswick County’s Board of Elections opted to ignore a unanimous vote of the Brunswick County Commission that the county board withdraw from the Alliance. It is not the only time the siren song of the Alliance proved stronger than the objections of constituents. Election officials in Greenwich, Connecticut, fought for months to join the Alliance over community objections. They were eventually rebuffed, but they still took $500,000 in Zuck bucks from CTCL.
Even if Brunswick and Forsyth counties choose not to withdraw, it would be wise for North Carolina lawmakers to pass additional protections against Zuck Bucks 2.0, such as a ban on all private funding of elections administration other than in-kind donations of voting locations. Other states should follow suit, ensuring that elections are run according to the law and accountable to the public, not to ideologues and special interests looking for any way to skew elections for partisan gain.