What Companies Can Do in Response to New Voting Laws

Baker Donelson

Baker Donelson

In the wake of Georgia's new voting law – and as nearly every other state in the country considers its own voting bills – business leaders are seeking to understand what their companies can do about such legislation, particularly, whether they are permitted to take a stance on it. Although the decision to enter the political fray is not a simple one and often involves multiple factors, what is clear is that companies wishing to speak out do not face significant obstacles from state and federal restrictions on corporate political activity.

The Supreme Court of the United States has largely given corporations the freedom to engage in "issue ads" that comment on broad policy issues but do not identify a particular candidate or take a stance on a particular law. What this means is that most corporate or CEO statements that speak out in general are allowed.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has also issued regulations that provide companies with a wide range of activities that are permissible in this context. Although Congress has banned companies from making direct or indirect contributions to federal candidates and political parties, the FEC has outlined several activities that are not considered "contributions" and therefore are permitted under the regulations.

For example, under the FEC regulations, companies are allowed to fund and conduct their own non-partisan voter engagement efforts. More specifically, as long as they do so on a non-partisan basis, companies can promote voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives (which in most states also includes online voter registration drives) for their employees, their customers, or the general public. The FEC regulations also permit companies to provide local voting instructions and information on voter ID requirements and early voting dates to employees and the general public. Additionally, the FEC regulations allow companies to educate their employees and customers on where their members of Congress stand on federal voting rights legislation by distributing voter guides and voting records as well as to provide resources directly to underfunded state and local election officials to help cover election administration costs.

As the foregoing makes clear, companies do not have to remain silent on political issues. If they wish to take a stand for or against certain legislation, as long as they follow certain guidelines, they are legally permitted to speak out.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Baker Donelson | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Baker Donelson

Baker Donelson on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.