ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 2044 would prohibit the use of private donations or contributions for operating elections, employing staff, selecting and equipping a polling place, or for use in voter education or outreach.
HB 2044 appears to take issue with CTCL grants (Center for Tech and Civic Life) that assisted counties with COVID-19-related election preparation and similar types of funding. There were NO restrictions on those grants; all counties were free to apply for those funds. Had that money not been available, some counties would not have been able to run elections in 2020. Most counties need temporary staff and most don’t have the resources to hire.
Ordinarily, the ACLU of Pennsylvania might entertain support for such a prohibition. But because the legislature has repeatedly failed to properly fund elections, and counties are desperate to have the resources they need to run fair elections and to do so safely during a pandemic, these grants patched a critical funding gap. If the legislature is committed to banning third-party grants from elections, then the General Assembly should include a provision to provide increased funding for county election offices.