DODSON: What You need to know about the $500K Registrars’ Grant

Submitted by Phil Dodson, RTM District 8 member

Do you know that our Registrars of Voters did not formally apply for their grant nor were they looking for or expecting to get one? This fact alone raises a big red flag about the organization providing the grant, the unusual circumstances about it and the need for further questions. At RTM committee and budget meetings our registrars were asked about checking into background of the organizations and persons involved with grant provider, the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). Registrars indicated they had not and there was no need based on their experience with persons who deal with election

The grant came about after our registrars expressed online interest joining the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence (UAEE). The UAEE was established in April, 2022 as a project of CTCL previously mentioned. Our registrars responded on UAEE website in May 2022 and completed a two page online form filling in responses to subjects previously checked on the website. Our registrars were merely looking to join UAEE with no thought, expectation or mention of any grant money availability on the website.

In a UAEE letter dated 12/1/22, our registrars unexpectedly received grant and membership agreements stating they were given a $500k grant from CTCL, an IRS Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our registrars and proponents assure us the grant organization is completely non partisan and no need to worry. However, just because an organization says it is non-partisan on a website doesn’t necessarily make it so. They have to say all the right things to maintain their non-profit status and you really need to check other sources!

UAEE currently lists only 10 registrar offices as members after the 9 months they have been in existence. (Greenwich being one of them) UAEE had to extend an initial response deadline to allow additional time to get more applications. The limited response for membership can be attributed to 24 states and 12 counties recently passing laws prohibiting registrars from accepting any private sources of money. Additional states and jurisdictions can be expected to pass similar laws in the future. Past media coverage and controversy about CTCL activities may also account for reluctance to be associated with the organization. If Greenwich accepts the CTCL funded grant our town’s good name will continue to be mentioned in current and future media coverage about CTCL.

There is a misleading impression our town registrars were given some kind of achievement award from the UAEE organization. While our town registrars have always done a very good job conducting our elections, the UAEE designation as a “Center for Election Excellence” is only a name given for joining and agreeing to participate. Our registrar has placed the UAEE logo on emails sent on his Town of Greenwich email account. Should we really be allowing the promotion of private organizations on our official town email?

There have been many letters and op-eds sent using the same catch phrases to disrespect any opponents of the grant and their opinions. It is unfortunate that some choose to conduct themselves this way.

If you agree with the above concerns contact your RTM members and urge them to vote “NO” against acceptance of this grant. Our municipal elections have always been funded with local or state funding and there is no reason to change this. Let’s keep private funds and influence out of our election process and avoid any controversial involvement!