Election Series Part 1: Pre-Election Advocacy
On this episode, we discuss the unprecedented election–year challenges we face and the ways all nonprofits can help ensure a safe election. As trusted messengers, nonprofits can explain voting options and deadlines; encourage absentee voting and a new generation of poll workers; conduct election protection programs; support and join litigation and even facilitate voting and promote increased voter turnout.
This is the first of a three-part series. Part 2 on Election Day(s) Advocacy. Part 3 on Post-Election Advocacy.
Our attorneys for this episode:
- Election-year challenges
- Dangers for in-person voting
- Massive poll worker shortage
- Monumental increase in voting by mail
- Predictions for contested elections/delayed results
- Defunding the United States Postal Service
- Interference in the election by foreign and domestic actors
- Reminder – 501(c)(3) organizations must remain nonpartisan
- When We All Vote Video – Voter Registration Drives
- Created by a c3, When We all Vote
- Shared by a c3, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Nonpartisan – no support or opposition for any candidate for elected office
- Explains how schools can create and promote a voter registration drive
- Explains how volunteers can share news of newly registered voters on social media
- Safe for community foundations and c4s too!
- Special rules exist for private foundations
- Can’t buy votes. Don’t exchange anything of value for someone completing a voter registration form or voting.
- Can spend money to facilitate voting – Examples
- Must also follow state law regarding voter registration and drives
- IRS permits targeting voter outreach for nonpartisan reasons
- Fair Fight Action Video – Vote By Mail/Voter Education
- Encourages Georgians to vote by mail to shorten lines for those who must vote in person and reduce risk for all
- Houston Justice Coalition Post
- Safe for c3s and c4s to share government messages
- Nonprofits can volunteer their space for voting/polling centers
- Best practices for 501(c)(3)s
- Nothing can support or oppose candidates
- Avoid mixing issue advocacy with voter registration/GOTV/voter education
- No candidate pledges
- Any interaction with candidates? Offer the same info to others running
- Best practices for 501(c)(4)s
- Can support or oppose candidates – track efforts – secondary activity
- Be aware of state laws
- Don’t coordinate efforts with federal (and usually) state candidates
- Report independent efforts under campaign finance laws
- Bolder Advocacy Election Activities Page
- Want to Conduct or Fund a Voter Registration Drive
- Election Protection Efforts Factsheet
- Election Year Activities for 501(c)(4)s
- How 501(c)(4)s Can Hold Elected Officials Accountable
- Partisan Electoral Activity: What is it and What Can You Do?
Non-Bolder Advocacy Resources
- Guide on how to do a school or community voter registration drive.
- For college students looking for information on voting? Check here.