The Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday that prevents county or state election officials from accepting funds from private groups seeking to fund Alabama elections.

House Bill 194 (HB194) is sponsored by State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy).

HB194 bans private funding from being used to purchase election equipment or pay the salaries of election officials.

“Today is a great day for Alabama voters,” Allen said in a statement after passage. “No individual or group should be able to purchase the equipment that operates our elections. Nobody should be able to buy the ballots or to pay the salaries of election officials. Today’s vote was a major step to ensuring that never happens in any future Alabama election.”

Allen is the Vice-Chair of the Alabama Legislature’s Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee. Allen was formerly the probate judge for Pike County.

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. While the effort had little tangible effect in Alabama, conservatives believe that these Zuckerberg-funded efforts in Georgia and Pennsylvania may have contributed to Biden’s victory over President Donald J. Trump.

“All elections 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 explained. “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.”

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

Alabama has one of the most secure election laws that protect the integrity of Alabama elections, but the legislature is considering a number of measures to protect Alabama’s election integrity, including requiring paper ballots and banning voting machines with modems. Both are current practices but adding them to the legal code would prevent future election officials from adopting those practices. The legislature is also considering outlawing ballot harvesting – paying persons to go collect ballots or absentee ballot applications.

House Democrats attempted to filibuster the passage of HB194, but House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) brought a cloture petition to cut off debate. The motion to cut off debate passed 72-18.

HB194 passed with a largely party-line vote of 72-28. HB 194 will now go to the Senate for their consideration.

Tuesday will be day 22 of the Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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