Texans: It’s Time to Mask-up and Hit the Polls
It’s June 29 here in Texas, and early voting for primary runoff elections begins today. Up until recently, questions remained regarding whether voters would be allowed to cast their ballots by mail. While nonprofit legal advocates argued that coronavirus health concerns should permit all registered voters to request a mail-in ballot, their efforts were vigorously opposed by state officials, who threatened voter fraud prosecutions for those who pursued that option as a result of COVID-19 fears.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court chimed-in and declined to reverse the prior decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision placed on hold the District Court’s preliminary injunction allowing all registered Texas voters to vote-by-mail due to fear of exposure to COVID-19. This means that, at least for now, Texas remains one of the only states in the nation to deny most voters the ability to cast their votes by mail during the midyear primaries and in the face of a global pandemic.
As a result, nonprofit organizations across the state are now working diligently to get out the vote (GOTV) and encourage voters to cast their ballots despite the potential health risks. By informing voters of their polling locations and educating them on the voting process and candidates, they are doing their best to ensure that all Texans continue to have a voice in the government that serves them.
Luckily, the tax code permits nonprofits to conduct GOTV work and other election-focused activities. Even 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in nonpartisan election year advocacy. For example:
- 501(c)(3)s can compile voter guides and candidate questionnaires to educate voters about the candidates’ stances on issues of importance to the organization;
- They can encourage voters to utilize the early voting period (June 29 – July 10) to cast their ballots when lines are short and the number of individuals voting is minimal;
- Nonprofits can also work to register new voters in advance of the November election.
For more on the do’s and don’ts for nonprofits, check out our election year checklist for 501(c)(3)s and our comprehensive Rules of the Game election season advocacy guide. You can also reach out free technical assistance hotline by filling out this form or calling 866-675-6229. We’re always here to help.