Private donations help boost funding for election offices in Kansas

WICHITA (AP) — Charities are stepping up to help local officials run elections across the nation, including in Kansas, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sedgwick County, the state’s second most populous county, has received a $816,458 grant from the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life to boost the efforts of the county election office, the Wichita Eagle reported.

“These funds will help the county provide a safe and efficient November election,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse.

Cruse, who alerted county officials about the grant deadline, said the county was awarded the money within four hours of applying.

The money is part of the $300 million that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced last month they would donate to the Center for Tech and Civic Life and Center for Election Innovation and Research “to ensure that everyone can vote and every vote can be counted.”

In past elections, charities have played supportive roles, such as by donating space for polling sites. But their help has increased during the pandemic, with companies such as Microsoft and Target saying they’ll give paid leave to employees who work the polls. The direct payments to public agencies bring it to another level.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office said it is aware of entities that have offered grants for the upcoming elections but that it has not accepted such funding at the state level. Its spokeswoman, Katie Koupal, said it is up to local governing bodies to determine whether to pursue such grants.


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