Tools for organizations engaging in
nonpartisan election -related activities
Nonprofit organizations can, and should, engage in nonpartisan election-related activity, including voter registration, education, and mobilization. The basic rule is that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot in any way support or oppose particular candidates. For detailed legal guidance, you may want to consult:
Secretary of State or State Board of Elections
Contact the Office of the Secretary of State or Board of Elections in your state to learn your state’s rules for voter registration drives.
Specifically, read their comprehensive legal guide on what nonprofits can and cannot do: Nonprofits, Voting & Elections.
Alliance for Justice
Through their Bolder Advocacy campaign, AFJ works to ensure nonprofit groups are up to date on rules governing campaign involvement. Review their materials and sign up for upcoming webinars at www.bolderadvocacy.org
League of Women Voters
The League offers Vote411.org, an online resource providing nonpartisan information to the public, with both general and state-specific information on all aspects of the election process. An important component of Vote411.org is the polling place locator, which enables users to type in their address and retrieve the polling location for the voting precinct in which that address is located.
Public housing agencies are often under the impression that they are not able to register residents to vote. That is not the case; in fact, HUD issued a Notice (FR-3968-N-01) in 1996 that encouraged housing agencies, Indian housing authorities, and resident management companies to become involved in voter registration activities. In 2022, HUD circulated an announcement that clarified permissible voter engagement activities for PHAs and HUD-assisted properties, which can be found in the Resource Library.
Organizations with specific legal questions related to their voter engagement projects after consulting the above resources are encouraged to contact an attorney who specializes in election law. It is important to remember that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot consult with campaign staff or political parties, even on simple technical questions.