EXCLUSIVE THE FEDERALIST: Zuckerberg-Connected Nonprofit Helped Shift Michigan’s 2020 Voting Rules



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This private organization, with ties to Zuckerberg’s CTCL, gained access to absentee ballots and edged public officials out of the election process.

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A nonprofit connected to Mark Zuckerberg-funded groups worked with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to influence state elections ahead of 2020. The changes include getting the state to alter how it used absentee ballots without an act of the state legislature.

Documents exclusively obtained by The Federalist through an open records request show National Vote at Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds working with Benson to change Michigan elections policy. NVAHI shares leadership ties with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group that shuttled money from Zuckerberg to government election agencies ahead of the 2020 election, as The Federalist previously reported. In several instances, NVAHI and CTCL worked together to influence the 2020 election.

The documents also show that the private organization funded by Facebook tycoon Zuckerberg exists to push states to adopt mass mail-in balloting of the kind that made chaos of the 2020 election.

Mail-in ballots are proven to be significantly more susceptible to fraud, as a bipartisan federal election integrity commission chaired by former President Jimmy Carter concluded in 2005. That’s because mail-in ballots provide more opportunities to influence, obtain, and traffic in ballots.

In one recent example, during a 2017 city council election in Dallas, Texas, investigators found one person had fraudulently signed 700 mail-in ballots—more than the total vote difference between competing candidates at the time. During the 2020 election in Wisconsin, officials took part in ballot trafficking and used drop-boxes for mail-in ballots, which a judge later ruled violated state law.

Private Groups Telling Public Employees What To Do

In Michigan, this highly partisan organization directly affected voting rules, the new documents show. In the emails, McReynolds suggested that Benson use administrative rulemaking to implement a permanent absentee voting option in the state. Administrative rulemaking means making regulations based on an interpretation of the law, often yielding regulations that differ from the law’s original intent and sometimes its explicit text.

“I was thinking that you may have rule-making authority,” McReynolds wrote in an email on Feb. 5, 2019. “The language below indicates that voters have a right to vote without giving a reason, which to me has left open the possibility of permanent or election specific absentee requests. To me, this means you do not likely need a legislative change.”

“Thanks Amber,” Benson replied, “Looping in Jonathan Brater and Mike Brady from our legal and policy team to explore.”

Brater served as Benson’s legal policy director in 2019, and Brady began working as her chief legal director in February 2019, according to LinkedIn. Benson named Brater director of elections in November 2019.

Benson spokesman Jake Rollow said Benson’s actions conformed to state law.

“Michigan’s voters enshrined the right to vote absentee in our state constitution in 2018, and upon being sworn in to office Secretary Benson went to work implementing the will of the voters,” Rollow said.

Private, Zuckerberg-Connected Group Affects Election Policy

The National Vote At Home Institute focused its 2020 work in Michigan on its top goal of increasing mass mail-in balloting. By January 2020, NVAHI had “hired a lobbyist to quietly push for an administrative fix that would speed up the ballot processing and counting in Michigan,” according to a 2020 presentation obtained through The Federalist’s open records request. NVAHI detailed a five-step plan to push universal absentee ballots, according to meeting mat…

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