Have you ever wondered if your nonprofit organization can conduct voter registration?
The answer is: Yes!
501(c)(3)s are permitted to engage in nonpartisan voter registration activities, and adding voter registration activities to your existing services can be an easy way to help low-income U.S. citizens exercise their right to vote. When your organization helps citizens exercise their right to vote, it strengthens your organization, your community, and the country.
As with any election-related activity, before you begin voter registration efforts be sure to review state and federal laws connected to election-related activities. Consulting with legal counsel to ensure that you are aware of and following the legal rules should be the first step. Nonprofits, like Alliance for Justice through its Bolder Advocacy Initiative, may offer free legal advice. And remember, your voter registration efforts must always be nonpartisan. The resource section below provides suggested organizations and publications to help you get started.
Ideas on how your organization can get involved with voter registration:
- Add voter registration to your existing interactions with clients. Consider adding voter registration assistance to the services, such as food distribution or nutrition education classes, you already provide.
- Conduct a voter registration drive. Consider organizing a special day(s) to focus on voter registration. You can designate your own day or sign up for National Voter Registration Day to join other organizations around the country to create broad awareness of voter registration opportunities and to reach citizens who otherwise may not register.
- Host a nonpartisan voter registration group at your site. Consider hosting a nonpartisan partner organization to conduct voter registration at your site. Many areas have local chapters of the League of Women Voters or other state and local groups dedicated to nonpartisan voter registration work with which you can partner.
- Promote voter registration opportunities. Consider posting signage and distributing to your networks—via flyers, your website, and email messages—information on registering to vote, including the voter registration deadline and where citizens can register. You also could ask partner organizations or public agencies to post voter registration information.
Resources to help you get started
- Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy initiative equips nonprofits with knowledge they need to be confident and powerful advocates, including by providing information on election-related activities such as voter registration. Their publication The Rules of the Game A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations provides detailed information on what organizations need to know before engaging in election-related activities.
- Nonprofit VOTE is a leading source of nonpartisan training, materials and other resources for nonprofits conducting voter engagement work. Their Voting in Your State: A 50 State Guide provides information from state election websites on registering to vote, voting early or absentee, finding your voting site, what ID to bring to the polls, and more.
- FRAC and Nonprofit VOTE’s Anti-Hunger Nonprofits and Elections: A Guide to Permissible Activities for 501(c)(3)s is a primer to help nonprofits working to end hunger get started in planning and carrying out simple, effective nonpartisan election-related activities.