New Jersey Voter Mentorship Programs and the US Alliance for Election Excellence
Last month, Brunswick commissioners passed a resolution asking the board of elections to oppose private funding in local election offices. Those commissioners are worried the alliance’s indirect ties to Mark Zuckerberg and other liberal tech billionaires open their office to influence.
In response, the alliance has released a set of values to guide the collaborative’s work. Here are some of them:
Many speakers who opposed Brunswick County’s membership in the alliance cited the group’s entanglements with left-of-center thinkers. They argued that its support for more mail-in voting, targeting hard-to-reach voters and ballot drop-off education was liberal-leaning and that the Zuckerberg grants were an end run around state laws prohibiting private funding of elections.
In contrast, some spoke in favor of joining the alliance, saying that it would give them access to best-in-class resources and training. Others pointed to a spate of national news stories about election fraud and said that naysayers were hyper-fixating on a non-issue.
Madison Deputy Clerk Jim Verbick defended the city’s membership in the alliance as a way to stay current on the latest practices of other election offices and to get help solving problems that local officials don’t have the expertise to handle on their own. He also criticized the claims that the alliance is promoting liberal-leaning policies and a conspiracy that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
A mentorship program is a great way to support employees and help them reach their goals. However, it’s important to determine what the objectives of a mentorship program are and how they will be measured. A mentorship program should be designed to deliver tangible results, including increased employee retention and productivity.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group that partners with left-of-center election reform nonprofits, has designated two Utah county clerks as participants in its “Alliance for Election Excellence” initiative. The move violates a state law banning private money for election operations.
The alliance has also been criticized for its political agenda and partisanship. For example, the alliance’s founding member is Sam Oliker-Friedland, a former Obama administration voting rights litigator who heads a separate Arabella Advisors front called the Center for Secure and Modern Elections. The Alliance’s newest project, camouflaged as training and mentoring for election administrators, is another attempt to brainwash voters by planting progressive activist staffers in local election offices.
The alliance is a coalition of left-leaning election “reform” groups that have been given big money by Zuckerberg to fan out and do training for local election officials. The membership process requires that the alliance gather detailed information on the inner workings of an election office and then offer suggestions for how to improve it.
The Alliance also helps to build tools that will save election administrators time, such as a tool for managing poll workers. In the future, the group plans to expand its work with election departments to include debriefing after elections, a process that can be useful for learning from past mistakes and improving next year’s operations.
The fact that the alliance has generated so much controversy demonstrates that it poses a threat to transparency and neutrality in election administration, which is why 24 states have banned private funding for them. The Brunswick and Forsyth county election boards should withdraw from the Alliance, as should other counties that have accepted the national funding.
The alliance’s chief funder is the Audacious Project, a “tech-heavy group” of donors with left-leaning ties, according to Inside Philanthropy. The alliance partners with other groups, including the formerly Zuckerberg-aligned CTCL and the Arabella-sponsored CSME, to provide training to election offices and answer questions about ballot curing, all-mail elections systems and ballot drop boxes.
Many of the speakers at Tuesday’s board meeting called on Brunswick County to oppose private money in elections and to pull its membership from the alliance, which it joined in January. But others urged the board to weigh the benefits of the collaboration with other election offices against any risks, such as a loss of public trust.
The nonpartisan alliance is open to any election office that wants to join and pay for its fees, which start at $50,000. It does not include offices in states where Zuckerberg’s donations prompted state lawmakers to ban private funding of election administration, such as Wisconsin, which has constitutional protections for its public funds.