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National Restaurant Association - 4 tips to engage employees in the election process

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4 tips to engage employees in the election process

Employees often consider their employers trusted sources of information about issues, elections and candidates. Although the workplace can be ideal for providing voter-education information, employers must follow certain guidelines when communicating with employees about elections. Here are a few tips on common election-related activities:

Educate everyone on the issues. Employers can communicate with all employees on issues that affect the company. Because companies can take a stand on issues in those situations, you can send out action alerts to encourage employees to contact elected officials.

It’s important to educate your employees on why the company has taken a particular position so they will convey the best possible message. In addition to information about company-related issues, employers can provide voter guides that show where candidates stand on those issues.

Remember: Avoid coordinating voter-guide preparation or distribution with candidates; otherwise, the guides could be considered in-kind contributions.

Follow the rules on campaign appearances. If you invite a federal candidate to your restaurant, they can talk about their campaigns and ask for support from a "restricted class" of employees. That includes salaried employees with management, supervisory or professional roles, as well as stockholders and family members of those employees or shareholders.

However, if you invite a candidate to appear before all employees, you also must give opposing candidates the same opportunity, if they request it.

Remember: Exclude non-U.S citizens who aren’t permanent residents from events where candidates solicit political contributions.

• Get out the vote. You can provide "get out the vote" materials to all employees. Such information includes Election Day reminders and materials about voter registration, early/absentee ballots and polling places/hours. In many states, employers must notify employees about the times polls open and close.

Again, you can conduct voter-registration drives and get-out-the-vote events for employees and customers, but don't organize those activities with candidates to avoid inadvertent in-kind contributions.

Check your local and state election laws before you undertake election-related activities.

For more information on how to get involved this election cycle, please contact Caitlin Donahue, the National Restaurant Association's political development director, at (202)331-5915.

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