Are public elections being funded by private money? This is the question that has been raised in the wake of the Audacious Project’s $80 million commitment to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). The CTCL has been accused of using private money to fund public elections in a way that favors Democrats, which has sparked controversy and prompted some states and counties to prohibit elections offices from accepting the money.

The CTCL has created the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, a consortium that offers assistance to elections offices for an annual fee. It also invited elections offices to apply to join the alliance, and ten offices were selected to become members. Six of these offices voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

The CTCL has come under scrutiny for its refusal to provide basic information about its operations, and for its request to elections offices to prepare certain materials before its visit. This has raised concerns about manipulation and the potential for private money to be used for partisan infiltration of elections offices.

However, some members have joined the alliance to share approaches and practices to conducting elections, rather than seeking a grant. For example, Kane County, Ill. received $2 million in grants, and Brunswick County, N.C. is attending an in-person convening of members, although they will not take any grant money.

The CTCL’s approach to funding public elections has raised questions about the transparency of its operations and the potential for private money to influence elections. As the upcoming 2024 elections approach, it is important that the CTCL’s activities are closely monitored to ensure that public elections are conducted fairly and without interference.