May is Here... Get Out and Vote!


by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel

Throughout the month of May, states and local jurisdictions will be holding elections at a polling booth near you.

Some of those elections will be primary elections, which, of course, narrow the field of candidates before an election for office. Primary elections are those in which political parties nominate candidates for an upcoming general election or by-election. Ohio, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia are all holding primaries this May.

General elections, elections in which final results will send winners directly to elective office, are being held in—among other states—Montana, New York, Texas, and Virginia. Additionally, many states and local jurisdictions are having ballot issues, such as levies, school issues, tax issues, as well as issues as significant as marriage amendments. It goes without saying that all citizens, including those who work for nonprofits, even issues-oriented nonprofits, have the right to and should vote.

History is replete with instances of the importance of one vote. And though tells me most of the commonly cited instances are urban legends, there is one example, which many of us lived through, that is no myth.

In 2000, the difference in the total vote in the state of Florida in the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was less than one-half of one percent. A recount and ensuing controversy ended in Mr. Bush receiving Florida’s electoral votes, and he won the election by one electoral vote.

With the ballot booth coming to a public gathering place near you, here’s a quick list of why your pro-life vote is important:

1. Every vote charts a course
Voting is our chance to have a say in setting the direction of our city, country and culture.

2. Every vote expresses a conviction
Voting is our chance to make our choice about the future of our government—or express our opinion about the present one.

3. Every vote counts
Just ask our 43rd President—or his former opponent.

4. Because vote exercises equality
Each and every vote is worth just as much as anyone else’s, regardless of wealth, gender, color, ethnicity or religion.

5. Because the clock may be ticking
If we don’t exercise this blood-earned right to vote, we may eventually lose it. This may seem alarmist, but not when our nation’s two and a half centuries of existence within the larger scope of world history is considered.

In addition to these considerations, each election season tends to raise questions in the collective and individual minds of nonprofit leaders and organizations. Is it legal to put up a sign on nonprofit property for or against particular legislation? Is it advisable for our executive director to run for city council? Can we publish or distribute a voter’s guide?

These, and similar questions, lurk in the frontal cortex of those who care about the issues, are constantly told to be wary of trespassing in forbidden waters, and yet feel a compulsion not only to vote, but to encourage others to vote.

While the answers are not always clear, Heartbeat International has already answered some of these questions.

Check out the following links for more information: