Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg want to ban outside funding. Democratic lawmakers want to accept it…
The Editorial Board – Thursday
Democracy depends on trust. Not only must the people who run our elections be completely honest, they must also look honest. Voters should not begin to worry that their vote won’t count as much as everyone else’s because someone is manipulating the system. People stop voting when they suspect the system has been rigged.
That’s the problem with “Zuck Bucks,” money given by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan to help states run the 2020 elections. It came to the states through a $350 million donation to a group called the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
Pennsylvania got a little over $25 million, of which Allegheny County’s share was a little over $2 million. The county spent $1.3 million on 76 temporary election workers and the rest on printing and mailing ballots for the 2020 election.
Further, the state’s 10 most Democratic counties got over $21 million, about 85% of the total. That amounted to several times the amount per voter that Republican counties got. It’s not irrational to believe that turnout in those counties got a boost; after all, that’s precisely the point of the funding.
Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg want to ban outside funding. Democratic lawmakers want to accept it when it comes — at least until the state adequately funds elections.
“Once this precedent becomes accepted, we will be playing a no-limits game,” Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, told this newspaper. “This will undermine election integrity.” Gov. Tom Wolf’s spokeswoman called claims like that “discredited conspiracy theories.”
A spokeswoman for Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald said that the cost of elections has more than doubled in just a few years, but the state has not increased its funding. “Unfunded mandates” in particular raised the cost. Fitzgerald opposes any such bill until reliable state funding had been secured.
Pennsylvania should not allow outside groups to fund our elections. It reduces voters’ trust in the value in voting. Many Americans already suspect major institutions of working against them; it’s not wise to give them more reason.
Democracy depends on trust, and trust also costs money.