Madison official says city spent elections grants before voters banned them

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday passed a constitutional amendment to ban private funding for elections.

Just weeks earlier, the city of Madison used most of the nearly $1.5 million in private grant money at its disposal to purchase a new machine to process absentee ballots, according to Mike Haas, the city’s attorney.

Haas, who is also the former head of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said the proposed constitutional amendments on Tuesday’s ballot were a factor in deciding to use up the money.

“To eliminate any questions about whether or not it could be spent in that way, the city made sure that the funds were spent before the election,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. TMJ4 News
Mike Haas, Attorney for the City of Madison.

The money came from the same organization that prompted Republican state lawmakers to push for private election funding to be outlawed. The Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2020 distributed more than $350 million in grants funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to help local election offices deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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