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GAO struggles to determine how 20% of federal grants for 2020 voting have been spent

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A federal audit discovered issues with 20% of Election Assistance Commission grants to help states with 2020 voting amid a pandemic.

When Congress authorized the CARES Act, a COVID-19 reduction package deal, the EAC obtained $400 million in grants, $326 million of which has been accounted for thus far. The Authorities Accountability Workplace, a watchdog company, reviewed how the EAC spent and monitored the grant cash in a November report.

Home Republicans first flagged issues in regards to the election grants in September 2020 concerning an expenditure in California. The GAO’s findings validate issues that the issues run deeper than one state, stated Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the rating member of the Home Oversight and Reform Committee.

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A Clark County election employee scans mail-in ballots on the Clark County Election Division Oct. 20, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Photographs)

“The potential for abuse may be very excessive,” Comer informed Fox Information. “The EAC is meant to be a watchdog, however it seems it has been a nasty actor, spending giant sums of cash with little transparency.”

The audit additional decided the EAC allowed states to create 60 extra classes for spending the cash fairly than assigning expenditures to the assigned 5 classes.

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“GAO discovered points with how states and the EAC categorized expenditures involving practically 20 % of the overall reported spending nationwide,” the GAO report says. “Consequently, within the EAC’s annual grant expenditure report back to Congress, states’ expenditures for comparable or the identical objects or actions could possibly be included below a number of classes, making it tough to persistently decide, by class, how states spent the grant funds.”

A voter eyes the opening of a ballot drop box before placing his ballot inside Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A voter eyes the opening of a poll drop field earlier than inserting his poll inside Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photograph/Elaine Thompson)

GOP Home members first turned involved about how the CARES Act cash for election grants was being spent due to a $35 million contract between the California Secretary of State’s workplace and SKDKnickerbocker, a Democratic political consulting agency that was on the identical time working for Joe Biden’s presidential marketing campaign. California used $12 million from EAC cash to pay for the contract that was used within the “Vote Protected California” program.

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“California, when it contracted with SKDKnickerbocker, engaged in microtargeting of voters,” Comer stated. “To me, that is what a political agency would do. Do we expect they have been microtargeting Republican voters?” 

A voting booth with sides blocked off with caution tape to ensure social distancing at the Italian Heritage Center on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

A voting sales space with sides blocked off with warning tape to make sure social distancing on the Italian Heritage Middle on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald by way of Getty Photographs)

The sheer amount of cash virtually actually means comparable issues existed in different states, Comer stated.

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The GAO, which may’t problem subpoenas or in any other case compel the discharge of knowledge, didn’t specify points in some other states. The audit was based mostly on interviews with EAC officers and a assessment of public information.



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