Not sure how to start engaging your congregation in the elections? Here are some answers to questions we frequently receive from our organizers –
Can churches engage in the elections?
Yes – with some exceptions. Because the political activities of churches are limited due to their IRS Tax exempt Status, it is important to know what your rights are. This guide from the Our Faith Our Vote campaign will help you understand what kind of nonpartisan election activities UCC churches can undertake to raise our voices in the elections in ways that are legally protected.
- IRS Code Prohibitions on Political Campaign Interventions,” Memo from UCC Office of General Council.
- Consequences of Losing Tax-Exempt Status,” Memo from UCC Office of General Council.
- See full IRS Guidelines
How can I register to vote?
Each state has it’s own rules and in most cases you can register in person, by mail or online. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission created a website that will connect you to your state election commission so you can register. Go to vote.usa.gov/.
You can also register, confirm your registration status and request an absentee ballot via VOTE.ORG.
Where do I vote?
The Voting Information Project (VIP) is a tool from our partners at the Election Protection Coalition that allows you to find key voting information like your polling place and ballot information.
Members of my church are serving in the military or living overseas. How can I help them?
The U.S. Vote Foundation is a great resource. Use them to access absentee ballot requests and voter registration services for all U.S. voters abroad.
Some members of my congregation have been previously incarcerated. What are their rights?
Voting rights for returning citizens vary by state. The Brennan Center for Justice provides a breakdown of criminal disenfranchisement laws across the U.S.
Do I need an ID to vote in my state? If so, what kind can I use?
Across the country, there is much confusion about voter ID laws. To help educate and empower voters, VoteRiders has created voter ID Information Cards in a convenient wallet size. They have them in English and Spanish for all 50 states + DC. Each card contains information on what IDs are valid for voting in your state, and a toll-free National Voter ID Hotline number (844-338-8743) for any questions or for help to secure an ID to vote.
Something is not going right. Where can I turn for help?
Sometimes things don’t go right. Maybe you’ve forgotten how to register, where to vote, or encountered a problem while attempting to cast your ballot. Perhaps you’ve noticed act of intimidation at the polls, or false or misleading information being disseminated in your community. Don’t worry, we have partners who are here to help.
Election Protection provides Americans from coast to coast with comprehensive voting information on how they can make sure their vote is counted through a number of resources including:
- Voter helplines:
- 866-OUR-VOTE administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- 888-Ve-Y-Vota administered by the NALEO Educational Fund – Voters will receive bilingual assistance (English/Spanish).
- 888-API-VOTE administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC – Voters can leave a message in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and Tagalog and the call will be returned in 1-2 business days.
- Digital tools including 866ourvote.org, @866ourVote, and facebook.com/866OurVote
Will there be any ballot initiatives voted on in my state?
Twenty-six states, as well as Washington, D.C., offer initiative and/or veto referendum rights for their citizens. You can see what’s on the docket in your state via Ballotpedia.
Have a question you don’t see here? Contact Sandy Sorensen.