Voter Registration and Health Centers

Health Center Program grant funding generally cannot be used to support voter registration efforts, which are not health services authorized to be provided by health centers under section 330 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act. 

Executive Order 14019, “Promoting Access to Voting,” sets as Biden-Harris Administration policy the promotion and defense of the right to vote for all Americans who are legally entitled to participate in elections. The Executive Order also emphasizes the responsibility of the Federal Government to expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information, in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy. 

As private nonprofit and public entities, health centers may participate in activities, including voter registration activities, outside the scope of the Health Center Program project, so long as the health centers’ efforts in carrying out the Health Center Program project are not impaired. Health centers may, to the extent permitted by applicable law, support non-partisan voter registration efforts as a means of reducing barriers to civic engagement within the communities they serve. Voter registration activities may include making available voter registration materials to patients, encouraging patients to register to vote, assisting patients with completing registration forms, sending completed forms to the election authorities, providing voter registration materials in waiting rooms, and allowing private, non-partisan organizations to conduct on-site voter registration. 

In addition, health centers are reminded that voter registration assistance must be a nonpartisan activity, conducted to promote voter registration. The health centers must not seek to influence a party preference; display party-affiliated materials; discourage registration; or imply in any way that the availability of services or benefits is dependent upon a decision to register or not to register to vote. Health centers should also consult with their own legal counsel concerning state and local laws as well as restrictions on other funding that health centers may receive.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Health centers may, to the extent permitted by applicable law, support non-partisan voter registration efforts. This includes making non-partisan materials available to patients, as long as:

  • providing these materials is done outside the scope of the project;
  • the health center’s efforts in carrying out the Health Center Program project are not impaired; and
  • the materials do not imply that the availability of services is dependent upon a decision to register or not to register to vote. 

(Added: 01/10/2022)

When collaborating with a community partner, you should follow your health center’s policies and procedures for approving or disapproving the use of health center space. As a reminder, voter registration assistance must be a non-partisan activity. The other organization’s activities must not impair your efforts to carry out the Health Center Program project. In no circumstances should voter registration activities imply that the availability of health center services is dependent upon a decision to register or not register to vote.

(Added: 01/10/2022)

Yes, your health center may participate in community events and conduct basic health assessments and screenings in order to seek out, engage, and serve persons eligible for the project’s in-scope services. Only the activities conducted on behalf of the health center would be within the scope of project.

(Added: 01/10/2022)

No, as voter registration activities are considered outside the scope of project, Health Center Program requirements related to board approval would not apply. As a reminder, your health center is responsible for complying with all other applicable Federal, state, and local laws and regulations. You should consult with your own legal counsel concerning state and local laws as well as restrictions on other funding that you may receive.

(Added: 01/10/2022)

 

Date Last Reviewed:  January 2022