An election activist group that funneled tens of millions in controversial “Zuckerbucks” into the 2020 election is touting the expansion of early voting as a means to counter “misinformation” in 2024.

The Center for Election Innovation & Research on Tuesday published a report titled The Expansion of Voting Before Election Day, 2000-2024 to highlight an increasing number of states that allow early voting.

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“Michigan now allows citizens to vote before election day, both in-person or by mail,” CEIR executive director David Becker said. “The benefits of expanding options to vote before election day are clear, from bolstering election integrity and providing eligible voters more flexibility. Providing options to vote before election day minimizes the risk of technical problems on election day, and allows time to protect against misinformation and build voter confidence.”

The report shows the number of states allowing early voting has swelled from 24 in 2000 to 46 in 2024, increasing the percentage of available voters with access from 40% to nearly 97%.

“Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the percentage of total ballots cast before election day has steadily risen over time: 14% in 2000, 21% in 2004, 31% in 2008, 33% in 2012, and 40% in 2016,” CEIR reports. “Sixty-nine percent of ballots were cast early in 2020, a dramatic increase likely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, before settling at 50% in 2022.

“This trend toward increasing numbers of ballots cast before election day is expected to continue with the 2024 general election, although probably not (yet) repeating the peak seen during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to CEIR.

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Becker told reporters during a virtual media briefing on Tuesday that “one of the best ways to inoculate yourselves as voters (against misinformation) is to take advantage of early voting.

Voters are “much more vulnerable on election day” to misleading messaging, he said.

While CEIR bills itself as a “nonpartisan nonprofit” that works with elections officials across the country to “build voter trust and confidence, increase voter participation, and improve the efficiency of election administration,” critics contend it’s a Democratic election advocacy group that helped steer the 2020 election toward President Biden.

CEIR took in $69.5 million in grants from Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Zuckerberg Chan Initiative in 2020, distributing $64 million in grants to governments for “urgent voter education assistance” across 23 states. That funding was part of about $419 million in “Zuckerbucks” pumped into the 2020 election that also involved the Center for Technology and Civic Life, which distributed “relief grants” to thousands of county and city elections offices.

A 2020 CEIR report showed about 85% of its funding went into paid-media campaigns, 11% for direct mail, and 4% for other communications.

“In addition to a statewide messaging campaign, Michigan sent out targeted mailings to engage voters. Active registered voters received information about ways to vote, elections deadlines and how to request a mail ballot, and those who had not yet returned their mail ballot received instructions on how to do so. Grant funds also helped communicate changes in election laws to voters,” the report reads. “According to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the state’s low rate of ballot rejection this year was directly attributable to CEIR’s voter education grant.”

Critics have argued the majority of the funding was funneled to Democratic leaning urban areas, or through groups controlled by Democrats.

News reports from 2021 followed $12 million that flowed into Michigan to The Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration, an inactive nonprofit with zero donations the year prior to the 2020 Zuckerbucks grant.

MCELA reported two expenditures in 2020: $9.8 million to Waterfront Strategies, a Washington, D.C. firm that handles media buys for Democratic campaigns; and a little over $2 million for Grosse Pointe-based Alper Strategies, founded by a former political director for the Democratic National Committee.

MCELA was formed in 2008 by Jocelyn Benson, now the state’s elected Democratic Secretary of State. Benson served on the board until early 2020, according to media reports.

MCELA President Jen McKernan told Michigan Public Radio in October 2020 the campaign was specifically targeting repeated text messages and direct mail to folks who have never voted, or hadn’t in a long time. She said the deluge of texts wouldn’t stop until voters cast their ballots.

“The targeted use of text messages means that the only way to ascertain the non-partisan nature of the campaign is to know where the phone lists for the text messages originated,” Star News reported. “If they were provided by Waterfont Strategies or Alper Strategies, they could have been lists of potential Democrat voters.”

The news site documented scores of political donations from MCELA board members to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Hillary Clinton, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, Benson, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and other Democratic candidates.

Becker, CEIR’s executive director, has a documented history as a liberal elections activist and attorney who previously worked for People for the American Way, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S. Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton, according to Influence Watch.