Legislation prohibiting county or state election officials from accepting funds from private groups for Alabama elections has passed the Senate and is heading to the governor's office.  

House Bill 194 (HB194) is sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy). The bill bans the use of private funding for purchase of election equipment or to pay the salaries of elected officials.

"All election expenses in every election in every county in Alabama have always been entirely funded by the government, and no aspect of those elections has ever gone unfunded," Allen told the House. "There is absolutely no legitimate reason for anyone to have the chance to 'buy' any aspect of the ballots, equipment or people that are involved with the administration of our elections."

Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) spoke at length, repeatedly stating that the bill would not allow campaigns or donors to operate freely. 

"People give their funds the way they want to give them," Smitherman said. "Folks generally give us what they think we ought to have. "

"This bill is junk," Sen. Bobby Singleton (D - Greensboro) said. "This [is] a piece of craziness."

Allen previously assured skeptical House Democrats that private 'get-out-the-vote' efforts and voter registration drives would still be legal.

The bill would prohibit the use of private funds for funding election-related expenses or voter education, voter outreach, or voter registration programs. 

During the 2020 election cycle, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent millions of dollars to county election officials through a series of grants. These grants were distributed almost entirely to Democrat-leaning counties, including seven counties in Alabama, all of which voted in favor of Joe Biden. 

Opponents of the bill have claimed that the funds have little effect on the election since the funds went to majority Democrat areas.

Proponents of the bill argue that funds like those provided by Zuckerberg played a pivotal role in other states like Georgia. 

The vote passed the Senate 25-7 and will go to Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration.

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