Elections 2023 (Yes, there is an election!)
Elections tend to generate attention in cycles - most often focused on federal positions, like Presidential or Congressional elections. Because off-year elections (like 2023) often receive less publicity (and therefore fewer total votes cast), a single vote often has more impact than it does during Presidential or Congressional election cycle.
This year in Maine, there are eight ballot measures that voters across the state will be asked to weigh in on at the ballot box.
While nonprofits cannot participate in partisan electioneering, nonprofits can take positions on ballot measures. In general, "the IRS considers ballot measure work to be a lobbying activity because members of the voting public act as legislators when they vote ('yes' or 'no') on the legislation proposed in ballot measures." Despite what you may have heard, nonprofits can (and should!) lobby on issues that impact their mission, and that can include ballot measures.
In Maine, it is important to know that organizations that spend more than $5,000 "to initiate or influence the outcome of a statewide ballot question" are considered a ballot question committee, and must register and file campaign reports.
October 2-6 is National Voter Education Week, "an open-source and nonpartisan campaign to help voters bridge the gap between registering to vote and actually casting a ballot."
Whether you need to register to vote, learn more about what's on the ballot, or get others to do the same, now is a great opportunity to tune in and get involved!
This information is offered as a resource only; it should not be construed as legal advice.
- Citizen's Guide to the 2023 Referendum Election
- This is what Maine's referendum ballot will look like in November
- Keeping Nonpartisan During Election Season
- Ballot Measures and Recalls: Basic Rules for 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Unions
- Practical Guidance: What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying in Maine