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May we drive voters to the polls today?

Your Legal Questions Answered

May we drive voters to the polls today?

The directors of our 501(c)(3) public charity are concerned about the outcome of the election today.  May we drive our clients to the polls to vote?

501(c)(3) charitable organizations are prohibited from participating in an election campaign (at any level of government) and can face serious fines or loss of exemption if they do so.  But the rules are clear that participation in non-partisan get-out-the-vote activities is permitted.

Therefore, you can drive voters to the polls but you can’t offer the rides only to those you think will vote a certain way and can’t indicate what your concerns are or how you hope they will vote.  A 501(c)(3) community association assisting seniors in my neighborhood sent out an email last week offering to set up rides for any member who requested one, with no indication of preference for any particular candidate.  That should be fully compliant with the rules.

If you are not set up to provide the drivers or don’t want to take any risks, you can still ask your clients if they need a ride and, if so, give them the phone numbers of the major party organizations who can provide the transportation.  Let them pick the party they ask for help.  Voting is a patriotic privilege and duty and helping your clients fulfill that desire is perfectly legitimate  — so long as it is entirely non-partisan.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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