Wisconsin voters approve Questions 1 and 2 to ban private funding of elections and authorize only election officials to administer elections

Voters approved two constitutional amendments related to election administration on April 2, 2024. Question 1 received 54.4% of the vote, and Question 2 received 58.6%.

Question 1 prohibited the state and local governments from applying or accepting non-governmental funds or equipment for election administration. Question 2 provided that only election officials designated by law may administer elections.

In 2023, voters in Louisiana approved the first state constitutional amendment to ban private or foreign election funding. That amendment received 72.6% of the vote.

In 2022, Michigan voters approved a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that allowed local governments to accept charitable and in-kind donations to assist with running elections as long as donations are disclosed and aren’t from foreign entities, among other changes. That ballot initiative was approved with 59.9% of the vote.

Debate over using private resources for election costs began after individuals like Mark Zuckerburg donated to nonprofit organizations before the 2020 general election. These organizations subsequently made a series of donations and grants to election administrators. According to the 990 tax form filed by the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a nonprofit that received donations from Zuckerburg, local jurisdictions in 38 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties received over $10 million in grants from CTCL for the 2020 general election

Ballotpedia identified 27 states that have enacted laws banning or otherwise restricting the use of private donations for election administration purposes. Twenty-one of these states had a Republican trifecta when the law was adopted; five states had divided governments at the time. No states banned or restricted private election funding before 2021.

Wisconsin has a divided government, with both legislative chambers controlled by Republicans and the governorship held by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Louisiana also had a similarly divided government at the time of the 2023 election. Constitutional amendments do not require the governor’s signature to be referred to the ballot.

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