Nov 4, 2022 - Technology

Steve Ballmer still thinks facts matter to voters

Ina Fried
Steve Ballmer holding a brochure of facts

Steve Ballmer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has spent the last few years investing in a nonprofit site that publicizes government data in hopes of rooting political discussions in fact. Though that doesn't seem to be the current direction of U.S. political discourse, Ballmer isn't ready to give up.

  • "I don’t think the baby goes out with the bathwater," Ballmer told Axios. "This notion that we need an informed electorate, I stand by that."

Catch up quick: Since 2016, Ballmer has been funding USA Facts, a nonpartisan effort to make government data more accessible, including an annual report of how the government spends its money.

  • Ballmer said he is glad to see that 500,000 people have visited the site's interactive midterms map, even if it's not the millions that will go to the polls next week. "It’s heartening to me," he said.
  • Unlike other tech billionaires, Ballmer has chosen to largely avoid partisan issues. He has backed a few candidates he knows personally, such as Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), a former Microsoft executive.

Yes, but: Ballmer admits to being "profoundly sad" that trust in U.S. elections has reached such a nadir. "That people have fundamental questions about our elections process, I think that’s sad," he said.

The big picture: Ballmer said most of the questions around voting are policy choices over whether to prioritize making sure everyone votes or preventing fraud. But once those laws are settled on, he said, "The votes are well counted."

  • Ballmer said there is some margin of error, but he doesn't believe it is enough to swing an election and worries about the recent trend of voters not accepting results in which their preferred candidate loses. "I would find that a bit of a tragedy for people to not accept numbers," he said.
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