Nonpartisan Voter Education

Date Posted: 11/27/2017
Last Updated: 5/30/2024

An Essential Role for Nonprofits

Why should your nonprofit get involved?

  1. It strengthens your nonprofit’s voice.  Elected officials know who votes.  They pay less attention to communities with low voter turnout.
  2. People trust nonprofits.  The people served by your nonprofit are more likely to listen to information from you than from any other source.  If your nonprofit doesn’t provide them with information about where, when, and why to vote, then they probably won’t show up on Election Day.
  3. Nonprofits make a big difference.  Research from the Center and Nonprofit VOTE found that 81% of North Carolinians who were contacted by nonprofits encouraging them to register and vote actually participated in the 2012 election.  This is much higher than the 69% overall turnout rate in North Carolina.  
  4. It’s legal.  Federal and state laws are clear that 501(c)(3) nonprofits are allowed to engage in nonpartisan voter education, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities.

Hasn’t this always been important?

Yes.  The N.C. Center for Nonprofits has been helping nonprofits to get involved in nonprofit voter education for 21 years.  For the last five years, we have been part of a national project called Nonprofit VOTE to assist you further.

It is especially important now because North Carolina’s election laws have changed, and legislators and the State Board of Elections have asked nonprofits to help educate North Carolina citizens that they serve about these changes.  It is nonprofits’ responsibility to be certain that our staffs, boards, volunteers, and those we serve are registered to vote and know when and where to vote and what they’ll need to bring with them. 

The changes made through H.B. 589 include: 

  1. Starting in 2016, North Carolinians will be required to show photo ID when voting in elections.  Many people served by nonprofits – including seniors, people with disabilities, young people, and low-income citizens – do not currently have valid photo IDs.  Free IDs will be available starting in 2014.
  2. Starting next year, the early voting period will be a week shorter, and North Carolinians will no longer be able to register to vote during early voting.  This means that many of your board, staff, volunteers, and people you serve will need this new information.

How can my nonprofit get involved? 

  • Check out for great resources on nonpartisan civic engagement from Nonprofit VOTE, a national partner of the Center. (Algunos recursos disponibles en español.)
  • Look for many more resources on nonpartisan voter education from the Center this fall.
  • Contact David Heinen, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy (email David, 919-790-1555, ext. 111).