CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A federal lawsuit claims nearly $700,000 used to pay for more poll workers and ballot process equipment in Charleston County may be a part of a nationwide attempt to privatize the election.
The lawsuit was filed by the South Carolina Voter’s Alliance just days before Tuesday’s general election.
A federal judge dismissed a motion from the alliance to put a temporary restraining order on Charleston County’s use of those funds.
The judge’s order said the lawsuit’s claims did not warrant urgent action and a disruption right now could impact the election process and make voting in person less safe.
Charleston County applied for and was awarded $695,000 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and county officials say the money has been spent on an extra ballot scanner for election night, advertising to recruit poll workers and promote absentee voting, and extra pay for poll workers.
However, the lawsuit questions the intent and influence of the money because it was donated to the non-profit organization by Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife.
“The concern is the privatization of elections. Governments should not and cannot play favorites in elections and the problem with the Mark Zuckerberg funds…is first, it’s unprecedented. He’s matched a federal government expenditure giving up to 400 million dollars to local governments to operate the election,” said the Director of the Amistad Project Phill Kline.
“This is a real threat to election integrity going forward and I believe Mr. Zuckerberg should really know better and as you look at what’s happening in America," Kline said. "If you want to control things in America…there’s two areas where you want authority. One is the flow of information and unfortunately, we are seeing some very strong concerns about high tech controlling the flow of information. The second is controlling how we elect our leaders. And now we have $400 million dollars put into the process of how we elect our leaders. That’s deeply concerning to every American or it should be.”
According to the center’s website, Dorchester County and Berkeley County also received funds from the grant program.
They have not been named in the lawsuit, and they have not yet responded to requests for comment on the complaint’s claims.
Charleston County officials said they do not comment on pending litigation, and the Center for Tech and Civic Life has also not yet responded to a request for comment.