Cash-strapped local officials reportedly rushed to secure part of Mark Zuckerberg’s $250 million donation to cover debt and other costs incurred ahead of the election (FB)

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Nearly 2,000 of the nation’s more than 10,000 election offices have applied for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $250 million election donation, per a Recode report, as the nation gears up for the 2020 presidential election.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced in early September that they were donating $250 million to local election jurisdictions to round out their voting staff, training, and equipment, distributed through a nonprofit, the Center for Tech and Civic Life. Many of the local governments in the US have depleted election budgets and slumped economies due to the pandemic and have not received federal support in the form of a new congressional stimulus bill.

There were so many applications that the nonprofit handling the awarding pushed the deadline from October 1 back to October 15. According to Recode, some have already been awarded — Dallas County, Texas, received $15 million and the Maine town of Union was granted $5,000.

The rules on how Zuckerberg’s contribution can be used are broad. Officials can use the money to cover costs shelled out since June, and they have until two months after Election Day to spend the cash. According to Recode, some city leaders intend to return any unused money after the election.

The lenient rules mean that some city leaders are using the tech CEO’s funds to cover their existing deficits. For example, officials in Jackson County, Illinois, told Recode they used $43,000 from Zuckerberg’s fund to take a chunk out of an existing $70,000 debt.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Zuckerberg’s donation comes as many states have looked to adjust their election plan during the pandemic, and as many have made it easier to vote by mail.

Facebook remains in the spotlight over its handling of political content leading up to the 2020 presidential election on November 3. The company’s reputation has taken a hit since the 2016 presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and it has implemented a series of changes to cut down on misinformation.

In September, Zuckerberg said Facebook would start labeling posts from candidates that declare victory before the official results can be counted. Facebook also announced it would attach a label to content that touches on the “legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.” President Donald Trump has repeatedly made false claims that mail-in voting will lead to election fraud.

Facebook also announced that it would not accept political ads starting the day after the election, and it will give users information as votes are still being counted, as it’s likely that the nation will not know the election results until after November 3. 

SEE ALSO: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google employees have reportedly shelled out $4.8 million to support Joe Biden since 2019 — and $240,000 for President Trump

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Source:: Business Insider


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