Allen’s ‘Zuckerbucks’ bill passes house

Published 7:19 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

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Rep. Wes Allen’s bill to ban private funding for election equipment passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote.

Wes Allen

Allen, R-Troy, sponsored House Bill 194, which prohibits private individuals or companies from purchasing election equipment or paying the salaries of elections officials. The bill passed the House 72-28 and will go to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

The bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor for any “state or local public official responsible for the conduct of an election, nor his or her employee, to solicit, accept, or use any donation in the form of money, grants, property, or personal services from an individual or a nongovernmental entity for the purpose of funding election-related expenses or voter education, voter outreach, or voter registration programs.”

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“Today is a great day for Alabama voters,” Allen said. “No individual or group should be able to purchase the equipment that operates our elections. Nobody should be able to buy the ballots or to pay the salaries of election officials. Today’s vote was a major step to ensuring that never happens in any future Alabama election.”

Allen serves as the vice-chair of the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee. Allen said he served nearly a decade as probate judge, the chief election officer, in Pike County and that experience helped him draft and pass this legislation.

Allen said the bill was introduced to prevent private individuals or organizations from influencing elections. Allen said during the 2020 election cycle, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent millions of dollars to county election officials through a series of grants. These grants were distributed almost entirely to Democrat-leaning counties, including seven counties in Alabama, Allen said.

“All elections expenses in every election in every county in Alabama have always been entirely funded by the government and no aspect of those elections has ever gone unfunded,” Allen said. “There is absolutely no legitimate reason for anyone to have the chance to “buy” any aspect of the ballots, equipment or people that are involved with the administration of our elections.”

The bill will pass to the Senate for consideration. If approved by the Senate, the bill will be sent to the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey for approval.