Dallas County is set to receive a big share of $300 million being funneled from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to election offices across the country to “promote safe and reliable voting” during the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday, the Dallas County Commissioners Court agreed to accept a $15 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a left-leaning nonprofit that is redistributing $250 million from social media mogul Zuckerberg and his wife to local election administrators. The couple committed another $50 million to the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

CTCL’s stated mission is to “harness the promise of technology to modernize the American voting experience.” Besides Facebook, its key funders and partners include Google, Rock the Vote, Democracy Fund, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Voting Information Project, and other nominally nonpartisan groups aligned with the political left.

The Chicago-based organization is run by Obama Foundation Fellow Tiana Epps-Johnson. She and CTCL’s two other co-founders worked together at the New Organizing Institute, which was once a training ground for Democrat organizers and digital campaigners. Dallas County’s controversial Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole is a member of CTCL’s advisory committee.

The private money flowing through CTCL to public officials is supposed to “help ensure that they have the staffing, training, and equipment necessary so that this November, every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way and have their vote counted.”

Pippins-Poole and the Dallas County Elections Department plan to spend about a third of their grant money—$4.72 million—to “promote ballot by mail and early voting ahead of the November election by printing, providing postage and sending absentee voting information mailers to every household in Dallas County.”

With early voting in the November 3 general election beginning on October 13, the county is running out of time to implement a plan encouraging residents to vote early.

County Judge Clay Jenkins said Tuesday it would be “a disaster” if 40 percent of people vote on Election Day “as they have in the past.” In the 2016 and 2018 general elections, about 27 percent of Dallas County voters cast their ballots on Election Day.

Dallas County was one of over 1,700 applicants for the Zuckerberg-financed COVID-19 response grants. CTCL says it is awarding funds based on population. Dallas is the second-most populous county in the state.

But a recent report claims CTCL is “targeting areas to boost only Democratic turnout” and granting the bulk of the Zuckerberg funds to counties and cities that vote Democrat, giving them an “undue advantage.”

Texas’ most populous county isn’t included on the chart, but Harris County reportedly received a $9.6 million grant from CTCL. Harris, like Dallas, is dominated by Democrats and even has a Texas Democrat Party official as its interim chief elections officer.

Both counties—which together account for almost a quarter of all Texas registered voters—are searching for new elections administrators.

Pippins-Poole announced in June she is retiring at the end of November, after a nine-year tenure marred by accusations of misconduct and incompetence.

Dallas County’s Elections Commission met Thursday to review applicants to replace Pippins-Poole, but the commission took no public action.

Citizens can contact their Dallas County representatives with questions or concerns.

Judge Clay Jenkins: dcjudge@dallascounty.org | (214) 653-7949

District 1 – Theresa Daniel: Theresa.Daniel@dallascounty.org | 214-653-7473
District 2 – J.J. Koch: JJ.Koch@dallascounty.org | 214-653-6100
District 3 – John Wiley Price: John.Price@dallascounty.org | 214-653-6671
District 4 – Elba Garcia: Elba.GarciaDDS@dallascounty.org | 214-653-6670

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.


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