Rep. Allen says bill protects election integrity, others express concern

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 4:46 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Before we know it, it will be time to head back to the polls.

One state representative is sponsoring a bill he says is aimed at protecting the integrity of our elections.

However, this bill is ringing alarms for some election education advocates.

Stopping private money from funding elections-

State Representative Wes Allen says that’s the main objective of House Bill 194.

“There’s evidence back in the 2020 election that Mark Zuckerberg spent millions of dollars to quote on quote assist local election officials across the county mostly in left-leaning counties around the country by providing funds and personnel to work in various stages of the election process and that’s just something that we do not need,” says Representative Allen.

The CTCL is a nonprofit Mark Zuckerberg paid to award these grants. The counties used the money for things like paying poll workers, state-approved voting technology and face masks.

According to documents obtained by WAFF from the Secretary of State’s Office, five Alabama counties, not in North Alabama, accepted grants funded by Zuckerberg to pay for election expenses.

Those are Bullock, Dallas, Macon, Montgomery and Wilcox.

Secretary of State John Merrill says the state reimbursements counties for election expenses, so there was no need for them to accept those grants.

“We made it clear to every county in the state, all 67 counties in the 2020 election cycle if you need resources for any purpose in the 2020 election cycle, you just need to ask us for them, tell us what you need them for and then we’ll provide it. However some counties are overzealous, and whenever somebody is standing there with dollar bills, they want to stick their hand out and say we would like to have those resources,” Secretary Merrill said.

While he’s in support of stopping private money from funding elections, he believes this bill as it’s written will stop organizations like the League of Women Voters from helping register people to vote.

“We will only support the legislation if the modifications are made that are necessary to ensure that they don’t infringe on the rights of the groups who are trying to participate in the electoral process,” Merrill said.

“He said Kathy, we’re concerned about this bill because it would make it illegal to do what the league does,” Kathy Jones said.

Kathy Jones, the president of the League of Women Voters of Alabama believes the state will see a decrease in voters if this passes.

“The language is very confusing, but the intent is very clear, that this is intended to make it where even if the sponsor of the bill may have been looking at something else, there would be a chilling effect on volunteers and voting rights groups,” Jones explained.

Representative Wes Allen says this is not the case.

“I mean, as long as they’re not giving the money to the local probate judge or the local circuit clerk in the administration of the electoral process, the League of Women Voters can go and get people registered to vote. I don’t understand that concern,” Rep. Allen said.

The Bill is awaiting approval in the State House.

The League of Women Voters will be on the steps of the state capitol Tuesday protesting this bill.

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