Cash-strapped local officials reportedly rushed to secure part of Mark Zuckerberg's $250 million donation to cover debt and other costs incurred ahead of the election
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, appears before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Andrew Harnik / AP
Nearly 2,000 of the country's electoral offices are looking for a portion of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $ 250 million donation to offset election costs.
Zuckerberg and his wife donated the funds to help local and state officials build election infrastructure and COVID-19 security measures in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
The report comes as local and state officials, with no financial support from a new Congressional stimulus plan, prepare for an unprecedented election in which mail-in voting will play a large role.
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Nearly 2,000 U.S. electoral bureaus have requested Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $ 250 million election donation as the nation prepares for the 2020 presidential election, according to a Recode report.
Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced in early September that they were donating $ 250 million to local electoral courts to round out their electoral staff, training, and equipment, which will be distributed through a nonprofit organization, the Center for Tech and Civic Life . Many of the local governments in the US have used up election budgets and economies collapsed due to the pandemic and have not received federal support in the form of a new stimulus package for Congress.
The 2,000 electoral offices applied for represent a fifth of the country's 10,000 electoral administrative courts. There were so many requests that the nonprofit that handled the award moved the deadline from October 1st to October 15th. According to Recode, some have already been awarded - Dallas County, Texas received $ 15 million and the city of Union, Maine, received $ 5,000.
The rules on how Zuckerberg's contribution can be used are broad. Officials can use the money to cover expenses incurred since June and have up to two months after election day to spend the money. According to Recode, some city guides plan to return unused money after the elections.
The lenient rules mean some city guides are using the tech CEO's funds to fill their existing deficits. For example, officials in Jackson County, Illinois told Recode that they used $ 43,000 from Zuckerberg's funds to pay off some of its existing $ 70,000 debt.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Zuckerberg's donation comes as many states tried to adjust their election schedule during the pandemic and just as many made it easier to vote by mail.
Facebook continues to be in the spotlight in handling political content in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election on November 3rd. The company's reputation has taken a blow since the 2016 presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and made a number of changes to reduce misinformation.
In September, Zuckerberg said Facebook will start flagging posts from candidates declaring victory before the official results can be counted. Facebook also announced that it would label content that "affects the legitimacy of voting methods, for example by claiming that legitimate voting methods lead to fraud". President Donald Trump has repeatedly made false claims that mail-in polls lead to election fraud.
Facebook also announced that it will stop accepting political advertisements from the day after the election and it will give information to users as the votes are still being counted as the nation is likely to post the election results after Jan. November will be experienced.
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