RCPA - Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association


Voting Information Available
March 26, 2008

The Pennsylvania Department of State has made information on voter registration, how to locate polling places, assistance with voting, voting system videos, and other information available at www.VotesPA.com. The deadline to register to vote in the April 22 primary election was March 24. The deadline for the November 4 election is October 6. According to the National Voter Registration Act, states designate as voter registration agencies all offices in the state that provide public assistance; all offices that provide state-funded programs providing services to persons with disabilities; other agencies that may include state or local government offices; other offices that provide services to persons with disabilities; and federal and nongovernmental offices. Voter registration agencies assist applicants with completion of voter registration forms and submit the forms to the appropriate election official. The act states that if a voter registration agency provides services to a person with a disability at the person’s home, the agency shall provide the services described in 42 US Code, Chapter 20, Subchapter I-H, § 1973gg-5 (a)(4)(A) (www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/42usc/subch_ih.htm) at the person’s home. The voter registration agency must not seek to influence the applicant’s political preference or party affiliation. More information about voting rights is available on the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Section, Voting Home Page (www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting) and on the Disability Voting Coalition of Pennsylvania web site (www.dvcpa.org).

Some non-profit entities are concerned that participating in voter registration and voter education activities will adversely affect 501(c) (3) status. Non-partisan activity should not have an impact on tax exempt status. A November 2007 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) news release states, The prohibition against political campaign activity has been in effect for more than half a century and bars certain tax-exempt organizations from engaging on behalf of or in opposition to political candidates. However, these organizations can engage in advocating for or against issues and, to a limited extent, ballot initiatives or other legislative activities. In addition to this news release, further guidance regarding political activity is available on the IRS web site (www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=175825,00.html).

Certain grants may place restrictions on use of grant funds for voter registration or voter education activities. An example is prohibition on the use of Community Services Block Grant funds for voter registration activities as described in Information Memorandum, Transmittal No. 81, August 2004 (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/csbg/guidance/im81.pdf). Providers should assist with voter registration activity and consider voter education within the restrictions of funding sources. Contact Betty Simmonds with questions.

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