Our Role Furthering Democracy (Plus, VT 2022 Primary Results)

2022 is a historic election year for Vermont, and yesterday’s highly contested primary elections determined the slate of candidates advancing to the November ballot. By VT Digger’s count, “two of the state’s three members of Congress, four of its six executive officers and roughly a third of all members in both legislative chambers are leaving their posts this year.” Amidst this unusual turnover, the communities we serve are facing mounting, complex challenges ranging from housing shortages to premium rate hikes, making electing the right individuals more important than ever. Read on for VT election resources and to learn why nonprofits and democracy go hand in hand.

VT 2022 Primary Results & Coverage

“But what do nonprofits have to do with elections?” you might ask, “Isn’t engaging in politics as a 501(c)(3) organization prohibited?”

While, yes, participating or intervening in political campaigns can jeopardize your nonprofit status, there is plenty nonprofits can do during an election year to advance their missions, educate voters and support the integrity of our democracy.

Why Nonprofits & Democracy are a Natural Fit

  • Voter Engagement: As community touchstones, nonprofits are uniquely positioned to get the vote out. Furthermore, the demographics of voters nonprofits engage are more likely to be underrepresented populations including young voters, low income voters, and/or voters of color. Nonprofit VOTE explains: “Voter participation gaps along the lines of race, age, income, and education level distort our democracy and the policy debates that flow from it. By working to bring underrepresented voices to the table, nonprofits can ensure a more equitable and inclusive democracy.”
  • Expertise: Nonprofits have the relevant knowledge and expertise when it comes to working with communities, solving problems and meeting needs. Sharing information and solutions with voters can help them make informed decisions.
  • Stakeholders: Nonprofits, and the communities they serve, are directly impacted by policy decisions made by elected officials. As natural organizers, nonprofits can not only build support around key issues, but also help to empower community leaders to develop the skills they need to advocate for themselves or even run for office!

Examples of Permitted Activities:

  • Hold bipartisan candidate events such as panels, surveys, or meet and greets
  • Share issue-based information with voters
  • Advocate for policies that promote voting access
  • Get the vote out activities:
    • voter registration events
    • phone / text banking – reach out to voters OR your client/member lists to encourage them to get out to vote (also a great opportunity to connect with community members!)
    • sharing information about how to vote
    • removing barriers to voting (for example, organizing rides to polling locations)

This list is not exhaustive but be sure to consult the Permissible Election Activities Checklist to make sure you are not engaging in prohibited activities.

More information, inspiration, and resources: