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Wisconsin voters approve changes based on false election claim

If
you
are
presented
with
the
word
“Zuckerbucks,”
the
odds
are
extremely
good
that
you
will
have
one
of
two
reactions.

The
first
is
confusion.
You
will
see
the
word
and
either
have
no
idea
what
it
refers
to
or,
perhaps,
remember
that
you
have
seen
it
floating
around
in
the
context
of
Donald
Trump’s
false
claims
about
the
2020
election.

End
of
carousel

The
second
is
anger.
You
are
familiar
with
the
term
and
the
connotation
it
offers
within
the
right-wing
conversation:
that
Facebook
founder
Mark
Zuckerberg
somehow
bought
Joe
Biden’s
2020
victory.
As
is
unfailingly
the
case
with
claims
about
the
election
hyped
by
Trump,
this
is
not
true

though
this
one
is
not
true
in
a
more
complicated
way
than
most,
meaning
that
it
thrived
where
others
didn’t.

On
Tuesday,
that
included
voter
approval
of
changes
to
how
elections
are
run
in
Wisconsin

a
shift
that
will
make
it
harder
for
counties
to
use
outside
assistance
to
ensure
their
elections
run
smoothly.

The

two
proposed
amendments

to
the
state
constitution,
each
approved
by
a
majority
of
voters,
block
outside
funding
to
support
election
administration
and
limit
that
administration
to
government
officials.
The
news
site
Bolts

explored

the
possible
ramifications
of
the
latter
amendment:
For
example,
would
representatives
of
companies
that
sell
voting
equipment
be
barred
from
providing
support
to
county
officials?
The
former
amendment,
meanwhile,
is
even
more
specifically
aimed
at
the
“Zuckerbucks”
hand-wringing.

So
let’s
explain
what
happened.

You
will
recall
that
the
2020
presidential
election
unfolded
at
a
weird
moment
in
history,
with
a
global
pandemic
killing
hundreds
of
Americans
a
day.
Elections
officials
were
scrambling
to
figure
out
how
to
safely
conduct
election
operations
and
accommodate
increases
in
requests
for
voting
remotely.

An
organization
called
the
Center
for
Tech
and
Civic
Life
(CTCL)
offered
grants
to
elections
officials
aimed
at
bolstering
those
efforts.
In
total,
the
organization
gave
out

nearly
$320
million

across
the
United
States,
money
spent
to
“ensure
election
officials
had
the
resources
they
needed
to
conduct
safe,
secure
elections
for
their
community,”
as
a
CTCL

report

explained.
Elections
offices
applied
for
grants
and
were
awarded
money
by
CTCL
before
the
2020
election.

Most
of
that
money
came
as
part
of
a
donation
Zuckerberg
made
to
CTCL

hence
“Zuckerbucks.”
As
Trump
was
scrambling
for
arguments
aimed
at
undermining
confidence
in
Biden’s
2020
victory,
Zuckerberg’s
involvement
became
useful.
Here
was
a
Big
Tech
CEO
from
liberal
California
donating
money

often
to
big,
liberal
cities!

to
get
more
people
to
vote.
A
conspiracy
theory
was
born.

Wisconsin
Republicans
seized
the
idea
with
enthusiasm.
The
Republican-led
Assembly
commissioned

a
report

on
the
2020
results
that
focused
on
“Zuckerbucks”
(a
term
the
report
itself
included)
as
a
reason
that
Trump
had
lost
the
state.
That
report
soon

became
an
embarrassment

for
Republicans,
with
Assembly
Speaker
Robin
Vos
(R)

describing

its
author
as
“probably
the
single
biggest
embarrassment
that
I
have
ever
had.”

Nevertheless,
Republicans
moved
to
lock
down
systems
that
they
believed
had
allowed
Democratic
voters
to
cast
ballots
more
easily,
including
funding
like
that
offered
by
CTCL.

The
rhetoric
about
the
CTCL
funding,
though,
is
silly.
It
is
understandable
that
more
populous
counties,
with
more
voters,
would
have
a
greater
need
for
resources
in
a
presidential
election.
In
Wisconsin,
counties
that
didn’t
receive
any
CTCL
funding
had
an
average
population
of
about
40,000;
those
that
received
CTCL
grants
had
average
populations
closer
to
200,000.
Independent
research
subsequently
showed
that
the
CTCL
grants
had

no
discernible
effect

on
the
results
of
the
2020
election.

In
Wisconsin,
counties
that
received
at
least
some
CTCL
funding
did
swing
more
to
the
left
relative
to
their
2016
presidential
margins
than
did
counties
that
didn’t
receive
any
such
funding.
Looking
at
county
densities,
though,
we
see
that
this
was
hardly
uniform.
Thirteen
counties
that
received
CTCL
funding
(generally
granted
to
municipalities
in
those
counties)
shifted
to
the
left
from
the
2016
results,
but
six
swung
to
the
right.
More
counties
that
didn’t
receive
CTCL
funding
than
did
voted
more
heavily
Democratic
in
2020
than
they
had
in
2016.

Milwaukee
County,
the
state’s
most
populous
and
a
recipient
of
CTCL
grants,
swung
about
three
points
to
the
left
between
2016
and
2020.
Nationally,
large
urban
counties
shifted
slightly
to
the
right.
But
in
large
suburban
counties,
the
shift
to
the
left
was
more
pronounced
nationally
than
in
Wisconsin

and
in
Wisconsin,
it
was
more
pronounced
in

non-
CTCL
counties.

So
did
Milwaukee
benefit
from
CTCL
funding
in
a
way
that
pushed
it
enough
to
the
left
to
hand
Biden
a
victory?
There’s
no
evidence
of
it.
If
we
compare
Milwaukee’s
results
to
those
of
other
large
urban
counties
nationally,
we
see
that
it’s
right
in
line
with
what
we
would
expect,
given
the
density
of
its
White
population.
That’s
centrally
why
big
cities
moved
right
in
2020
relative
to
2016,
after
all:
a
smaller
Democratic
margin
among
non-White
voters.

There
remains
no
evidence
that
the
results
of
the
2020
presidential
election
were
tainted
by
fraud
or
illegal
voting
in
any
state,
including
Wisconsin.
This
is
why
Trump
and
his
allies
have
been
eager
to
elevate
other
purported
malfeasance:
vague
allegations
about
tech
executives
slinking
around
Midwestern
states
has
a
visceral
appeal
and
a
useful
vagueness
about
purported
effects.
Enough
that
it
allowed
Wisconsin
Republicans
to
present
voters
in
the
state
with
a
solution
to
the
problem
that
they
had
invented.

It’s
really
important
to
underline
one
additional
point
here.
Even
if
Mark
Zuckerberg
had
personally
spent
money
in
Milwaukee
with
the
explicit
intent
to
get
more
Democrats
to
vote

that’s
just
electoral
politics.
There’s
no
insinuation
here
that
somehow
those
voters
should
not
have
been
allowed
to
cast
votes,
just
that
their
doing
so
was
unfairly
(to
Republicans)
enabled
by
outside
actors.
This
isn’t
an
anti-fraud
measure;
it
is,
instead,
an
explicitly
anti-Democratic-voter
one.

Now
added
to
the
constitution
during
a
primary
election
in
which
fewer
voters
participated.

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