Zuckerberg-Funded Nonprofit That Gave ‘Large Grant’ to SOS Releases Survey of Georgia Voter Attitudes on Election Integrity

Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS /Getty

The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), a nonprofit organization that received a $50 million donation from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in September — and subsequently gave a “large grant” to the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “for the purpose of educating voters about election rules and process” — released a survey on attitudes of Georgia voters on election integrity Wednesday.

“This polling took place in October during the general election early voting period, in November shortly after the general election, and in January just prior to the runoff election,” the CEIR statement released Wednesday said of the survey.

The first survey of 500 likely general election registered voters in Georgia was conducted between October 23 and October 27. The second survey of 500 registered voters who voted in person in the general election was conducted between November 4 and November 6. The third survey of 500 likely runoff election registered voters in Georgia was conducted between January 2 and January 4.

All three surveys were conducted by Georgia Opinion Surveys and have a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

The CEIR statement identified three key findings of the surveys:

  • The January survey showed that 83 percent of respondents were confident their individual votes would be counted as they intended.

  • That was down slightly from our October pre-election surveys, which showed 91 percent of respondents were confident.

  • Before the general election, 93 percent of self-identified Republicans reported they were confident their votes would count as intended. Despite some drop off, a large majority – 71 percent –  of Republicans maintained their confidence.

“It is heartening to see a relatively small reduction in overall confidence in the face of the unprecedented and false attacks on Georgia’s voting system in the immediate aftermath of the presidential election,” David Becker, executive director and founder of CEIR, said of the survey

“The disinformation campaign to raise doubts about the integrity of Georgia’s elections was without modern precedent. There is no question that the falsehoods about the election had an impact on their intended audience—Republican voters in the state. However, our survey data suggests that while there has been a measurable decline in voter confidence among Republicans, that decline was not as large as one might expect. This is cause for hope,” Becker added.

Neither Becker nor CEIR provided examples of “the unprecedented and false attacks on Georgia’s voting system” mentioned in the statement.

Breitbart News reported in January that 700,000 Georgia residents who voted in the state’s November 2020 general election, which President Trump narrowly lost by a little more than 11,000 votes, did not show up in the state’s January 5, 2021, runoff elections in which two Democratic challengers defeated two incumbent Republican senators, giving Democrats 50 seats in the Senate and majority control with the election of Vice President Kamala Harris (D-CA) as the tie-breaking vote.

Breitbart News reported on the details of Zuckerberg’s $50 million donation to CEIR on October 19:

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday that he and his wife have donated an additional $100 million to a “safe elections” project run by the non-profit Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL), bringing their total contributions to that project to $350 million since September 1.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, also announced a separate $50 million personal contribution in September to another non-profit, the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), to “assist [state] election officials as they seek to inform voters about their voting options and any changes [due to the coronavirus pandemic], educate them about how they can successfully ensure their ballot is received and counted, and bolster transparency and legitimacy.” . . .

“We invited all 50 states and DC to apply for grants for the purpose of educating voters about election rules and process. 24 states applied, the amount of the grant requested was solely at the states’ discretion, and we awarded the full amount of every state’s application (which exceeded $50 million – Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg contributed additional amounts to allow for all grants to be fulfilled),” David J. Becker, executive director and founder of the CEIR, told Breitbart News in an emailed statement sent on Thursday:

One state, Louisiana, wasn’t able to receive the grant under state law, but we awarded the requested grants to the other 23 states (full list below). Those states represent a bipartisan group, with Democratic Secretaries of State in 10 states, Republican Secretaries of State in 8 states, and 5 states with bipartisan or nonpartisan boards of election.

The list of states that applied for and received grants includes: AZ, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IA, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, VT, and SC.

Most of the grant funding has been delivered, and we expect the entire awards will be delivered to all states by early next week.

If you’d like to reach out to one of the grant recipients about this, I’m fairly certain the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, which received a large grant, would be happy to discuss it. You could reach out to Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs there, who’s most familiar with the grant process. [Emphasis added]

Breitbart News has asked the press office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for details on the “large grant” it received from CEIR (presumably delivered some time between September 1 and October 19), including the amount of the grant, the use of proceeds of the grant, who supervised the grant, and whether or not it was appropriate for the secretary of state’s office to accept a grant from a nonprofit primarily funded by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. Breitbart News did not receive a response as of our deadline for this story.

Though it was not widely reported, the Georgia secretary of state’s office announced a partnership with CEIR in an undated press release (according to the Wayback Machine internet archives, the press release was on the website on March 15, 2020) on its website:

(ATLANTA) – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is launching a partnership with the nonpartisan election security experts at the Center for Election Innovation and Research. CEIR is a nationwide leader in restoring election integrity and developing proven strategies to secure our elections.

“As Secretary of State, I take cyber security seriously and will seek out the best methods for securing our vote from the greatest minds that the country has to offer,” said Raffensperger. “I look forward to working hand in hand with the Center for Election Innovation and Research to ensure a secure and reliable paper-ballot system.”

“We are honored to assist the Georgia Secretary of State as his office oversees the historic transition from unauditable paperless voting to auditable and accessible paper ballots throughout the state,” said CEIR’s Executive Director and Founder David Becker. “We are proud to work with Georgia and other states around the nation, both blue and red, to ensure secure and accessible elections that can serve as a model for other states.”

CEIR was founded in 2016 to help protect the country from foreign interference in U.S. elections, and ensure efficient, accurate, and accessible elections. CEIR works with Secretaries of State of both major parties, in addition to other state and local election officials across the country. The independent organization works to help states secure their election infrastructure and maintain accurate and complete voter lists in order to reestablish confidence in the American voting system.

CEIR is led by David Becker, an attorney with extensive experience fighting for free and fair elections. Becker spent seven years in the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. During his time there, he served as lead voting rights counsel overseeing the state of Georgia, and served as lead trial counsel in the case of Georgia v. Ashcroft, in which the 2001 Georgia statewide redistricting plans were analyzed for claims of racial gerrymandering against African-American voters, a case that was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. David also spent 8 years at The Pew Charitable Trusts, and led the effort to create the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which now helps over thirty states, including Georgia, keep their voter lists more accurate and has led to the registration of millions of new voters nationwide. David currently serves as Co-Chair of Michigan’s Election Security Advisory Commission on behalf of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D).

The more than $419 million in grants provided to CTCL (which received $350 million) and CEIR (which ended up receiving $69.5 million and in turn funded election-related operations of county, municipal, and state governments) have been controversial, as Breitbart News reported in October:

A report released by the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society at a press conference on Wednesday alleged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife made $419.5 million in contributions to non-profit organizations during the 2020 election cycle–$350 million to the “Safe Elections” Project of the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and another $69.5 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research–that, “improperly influence[d] the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party.”

“The 2020 presidential election witnessed an unprecedented and coordinated public-private partnership to improperly influence the 2020 presidential election on behalf of one particular candidate and party. Funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other high-tech interests, activist organizations created a two-tiered election system that treated voters differently depending on whether they lived in Democrat or Republican strongholds,” Amistad Project Director Phill Kline wrote in the report’s executive summary.

The report identified three key actions that, taken together, “represent the beginning of the formation of a two-tier election system favoring one demographic while disadvantaging another demographic.”

  • Private monies dictated city and county election management contrary to both federal law and state election plans endorsed and developed by state legislatures with authority granted by the United States Constitution.

  • Executive officials in swing states facilitated, through unique and novel contracts, the sharing of private and sensitive information about citizens within those states with private interests, some whom actively promote leftist candidates and agendas.

  • Swing state governors also started issuing emergency executive orders shutting down in-person voting while pouring new state resources into encouraging persons to vote in advance. Polling data revealed this coordinated assault on in-person voting generally favored Democrat Party voters who preferred to vote in advance, while placing Republicans, who preferred to vote in person, at a disadvantage. These actions represent the beginning of the formation of a two-tier election system favoring one demographic while disadvantaging another demographic.

“This evidence is present and available to all Americans,” Kline said at the press conference of the information included in the report.

“The mainstream media has also tried to censor this evidence,” he noted, adding that, “America understands that there are serious problems with this election.”

“This effectively is a shadow government running our elections,” Kline continued.

Breitbart News also reported on the significant impact the CTCL grants had on the election outcome in Georgia:

Most of Joe Biden’s 221,751 vote margin gain in Georgia, compared to Hillary Clinton’s performance in 2016, came from three metropolitan Atlanta counties that received more than $15 million from the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) “safe elections” project.

Those three counties — Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett–accounted for 168,703 of Biden’s 221,751 vote margin gain, or 76 percent.

As Breitbart News reported, the Fulton County Commission in Georgia accepted $6 million from the Zuckerberg-funded CTCL without any public record indicating that it was Zuckerberg-funded:

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to accept a $6.3 million grant from the Mark-Zuckerberg funded Center for Technology and Civic Life “Safe Elections” project at a September 2, 2020 board meeting. It proceeded without asking a single question about the name of the group providing the funding, the origin of the funding, or the details of what the funding would be used for.

As Breitbart News reported, a significant chain of custody security concerns surround absentee ballots deposited in the 300 drop boxes across the state approved by the Georgia State Election Board.

Secretary of State Raffensperger has had a cooperative relationship with CEIR and its executive director David Becker since at least 2019.

The Albany Herald reported in August 2019:

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger hosted a roundtable on election security alongside David Becker, founder and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research. Joined at the Capitol by more than a dozen experts from organizations including Microsoft, the Department of Homeland Security, and Augusta University, Becker led a wide-ranging discussion on the status of Georgia’s election security.

A year later, on August 12, 2020, Becker wrote an op-ed published at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which he praised the actions of Secretary of State Raffensperger but did not disclose his organization’s partnership with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which had apparently been in effect for several months at that time:

The threat of foreign interference in our elections is very real, and is not going away. Special Counsel Robert Mueller made this clear when he testified before the House of Representatives last month that “[The Russians] are doing it (interfering) as we sit here.” The Senate Intelligence Committee and FBI agree that we can expect ongoing interference in our elections, including attacks on our election infrastructure, in 2020 and beyond.

In response, it’s more important than ever that states improve cybersecurity around election technology and ensure processes that will protect our votes. The good news is that around the country, and in Georgia in particular, great strides in election security have been made in just the last few months.

First, Georgia is joining several states, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, in replacing its paperless touchscreen voting machines by 2020. These machines are old, and fail to provide a paper ballot that can be audited to ensure that there’s been no tampering. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced late last month that new machines would be purchased and deployed in time for the 2020 elections. These “ballot marking devices” (or BMDs) allow all voters, including those with disabilities and language needs, to mark a ballot independently and easily, using a touchscreen, and once the ballot is complete, produces an official, human-readable paper ballot that can be independently counted, and audited for accuracy.

On October 21, Secretary Raffensperger announced a special election task force on which CEIR’s Becker was a member:

A release described it as a “a bipartisan group of leaders in the political, civic, and educational spaces to meet weekly and discuss the ways elections processes can be improved moving forward.”

“The Secretary will solicit the task force members for innovative ideas to build on the nation leading ballot access options provided in the Peach State, including no excuse absentee ballot voting by mail or through a secure drop box, gold-standard three weeks of early voting, and Election Day voting,” the release said.

Other members of the task force include Republican former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, ACLU of Georgia counsel Vasu Abhiraman, Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark, Georgia Tech professor Angelos Keromytis, MIT professor Charles Stewart, Center for Election and Innovation Research Founder and Executive Director David Becker, Jake Evans, the chairman of the Georgia chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association, Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk, DeKalb County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Erica Hamilton, Cobb County Director of Elections and Registration Janine Eveler, Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron, Monica Childers of VotingWorks, as well as Sec. Raffensperger and Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.

The Georgia General Assembly is currently considering legislation designed to improve a number of election integrity concerns raised in the 2020 general election.

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