More Detailed Suggestions for Election-related Activity on the
of Pro-life Organizations
This page is presented as a service to pro-life organizations to plan
activities and simple steps that can be taken in the final weeks before Election
Day to educate and mobilize voters.
Articles and Text Boxes
Articles in Your
Do not pass up the opportunity to discuss political
responsibility in your own publications. Even a single article in your
newsletter between now and the elections serves to remind readers of their
responsibilities to take part in the political process. Your organization may
not be permitted to endorse candidates, but you can have a lot of influence on
the process simply by reminding people of general themes such as a) the duty to
vote; b) the duty we have to evaluate candidates responsibly; and c) the issues
that matter most and the responsibility public officials have on those issues.
You can use, in whole or in part, the material available at
There is material there suitable for all denominations and for secular
Text Boxes for Your
Included on this site are
camera-ready text boxes that you can include in your newsletters. There are
others, suitable for a wide range of audiences, available for download at
Letters to the Editor
One of the most effective ways for your members to participate in the
electoral process is by writing letters to the editor. Because of the nature of
your group, you would probably have the most success by focusing on religious
publications. Such periodicals offer excellent opportunities to encourage your
mailing list to participate in the electoral process and to do so in a way that
advances the Culture of Life.
Our website, at
www.priestsforlife.org/letters, explains our Letters to the Editor
Project. This involves
a) encouraging individuals to write letters to the editor
more frequently, and
b) organizing groups of people in which a few writers
compose a large number of letters, and then the rest -- who may not be as
comfortable composing the letters -- choose which one they want to send in
as their own. Provided the individual agrees with the content and wants to
send it in, this is a perfectly legitimate way to assist them in making
their voice heard.
Our web site provides an explanation of how to write effective letters,
as well as sample talking points and sample letters. Following is some of
the information that you may want to make available to your members.
Responsibility to Vote
- Active participation in our
community is a fundamental element of Christian commitment and American life.
- Pro-life people must make
registering to vote a priority rather than considering it a secondary concern.
- While there is never an ideal
candidate, one can try to determine which candidate will best advance
respect for life.
- If neither candidate respects
life, a vote to prevent the candidate who will promote the greater evil is
morally permissible as a means of limiting evil.
Primacy of the Abortion
- There are many issues to consider in elections, just as there are
many parts needed to build a house. But without a foundation, all the
other parts of the house collapse. Without the right to life, all other
efforts for social justice fail.
- If a candidate expressed support for terrorism, such a person
would disqualify himself for public office. People would not even ask
his position on other issues. Support for abortion disqualifies
candidates in the same way. The first requirement of a public servant is
to be able to tell the difference between serving the public and killing
the public. If a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby,
how is he supposed to respect yours?
- "Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a
commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum…. Yet abortion and
euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they
directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the
condition for all others" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998,
- It is a key responsibility of the President of the United States to
nominate individuals to serve on the Supreme Court and on other federal
courts. Each United States Senator is then able to vote on whether to
confirm the president’s nominee. These courts often have, in practice,
the last word on public policies touching every aspect of life.
Therefore, the results of elections for President and US Senate also
shape the courts and, indirectly, the kinds of decisions they make.
- There are likely to be more Supreme Court vacancies in the
coming few years.
- The makeup of the Court will determine whether decisions like
Roe v. Wade will remain in place for another generation.
- The federal courts must have judges who are willing to apply
the Constitution as it is written rather than "discovering" unwritten
rights such as abortion and gay marriage.
- Some Senators may filibuster, and even stop, judicial
nominations because they don’t like the nominee’s position on certain
issues, despite the nominee’s qualifications as a judge. This is an
erroneous, politicized view of the role of the courts.
Tips for writing
- Know your topic thoroughly! You need not be an expert on abortion,
the pro-life movement, or a particular candidate to write a letter to
the editor. Your letter is not a treatise on all the complexities of
these issues. Instead, it will be about a small aspect of one or more of
these topics. Know enough that you can make your point thoroughly and
- Keep your letters focused. Don't get sidetracked by including
far more information than the letter calls for. Many effective letters
discuss only one candidate's stand on one particular aspect of a policy
- Tie in the letter to an article or editorial that was recently
published in the publication to which you are writing. There are
countless topics worthy of interest and discussion, but what periodicals
consider especially important is reflected in their reporting.
- Have a friend or family member edit the letter for both form
and content. Well-written letters are more likely to get published than
those with grammatical errors or misstatements.
- Go negative. Often the most effective election-related
activities do not even mention the name of the candidate that the
activist supports. Instead, letters can focus on the other candidate's
record or positions. Portray the opposition candidate as an extremist,
especially on issues like partial-birth and born alive infant
protection. Pro-abortion candidates can be shown as unwilling to
compromise at all, and that is extremely unpopular with voters. Do not
fall into the trap of thinking that "going negative" is somehow dirty
politics. When a candidate is running for public office, discussion and
criticism of his policy positions are essential to having voters make
- Especially in the cases of those who oppose any and all
pro-life legislation, portray pro-abortion candidates as
"captives/slaves/puppets of special interests", such as the National
Abortion Federation and the National Organization for Women.
- If space permits, consider potential objections to your letter
and reply to them within the letter. It is much more difficult for
opponents to respond if you have already answered their arguments.
Using the Internet
Through blogs, You Tube, and other websites, the internet has more influence on
the political process today than at any other time in history. The internet
enables groups and individuals to counteract the bias of the media, within the
limited budgets they often face.
The internet is an excellent tool for recruiting volunteers. Priests for
Life has set up a form that allows volunteers to select projects of interest
from numerous potential activities. Link to the form at
to give the members of your group the opportunity to participate in our
Unfortunately many members of your group are unaware of the positions that
candidates and political parties take on the major issues. Provide them with
a link to www.votinginfo.org where
they can find such information. A more informed electorate turns out in
There are numerous other web sites to which you can link to provide people
with access to electoral information, statements of Church leaders, and
explanations of practical activities.
Throughout the year, Priests for Life distributes numerous press releases
and statements, both its own and those of other leaders. Help distribute
this information by sending it out on your group e-mail list.
Registering Your Members
Millions of pro-life believers who are otherwise eligible are
not registered to vote. The place to start correcting this situation is among
our own members and supporters.
The good news is that technology has made this much easier
than it would have been just a few years ago. It is now possible to
electronically connect your members with voter registration forms (see
www.priestsforlife.org/vote). This simplifies the process and makes it far
less intimidating. E-mail your group members and make them aware of this
option. They can fill out their information online, print the form, answer
the two questions at the top, sign the form and mail it. Voter Registration
has never been easier.
Mailings, phone calls, and faxes to members who are not
registered, encouraging them to do so, is an important activity. A simple
reminder can be included in mailings that are already going out. Let your
members know just how easy it is to register. The most common excuse people
use for not registering is that they do not want to be called for jury duty.
Inform them that registering to vote does not increase their likelihood of
getting called for jury duty. Jury selections are taken from lists of
taxpayers, utility bill payers, drivers license holders, etc.
Tax-exempt organizations and Churches are permitted legally
to conduct non-partisan voter registration drives. Detailed information about
the process can be found at www.priestsforlife.org/vote. There is a
voter registration form accepted by almost every state, and our web site
indicates other requirements and deadlines for registering in each state. The
form only takes a minute or two to fill out. If people are not sure whether they
are registered, or if they have moved since the last election, they should
Meetings of your members, prayer or Bible study groups,
conventions, banquets, and other gatherings provide an excellent opportunity to
have a voter registration table available.
Exit polling has shown that those who attend Church regularly
vote overwhelmingly pro-life. To capitalize on this fact, Priests for Life and
other Christian organizations have joined in calling for "Voter Registration
Sundays." A diocese, a particular parish or congregation, or a citizens'
organization, can arrange for voter registration drives whereby people at Church
are urged to register on their way out. Find out more at
ask our staff for a voter registration packet at 888-735-3448, ext. 260.
What Can I Do Legally?
Many tax-exempt organizations are concerned about what they
may and may not do regarding elections. Confusion or over-cautious legal advice
in this area leads to massive failure to do simple things that can have a
profound influence for good.
It is helpful to keep in mind some general principles
that apply to tax-exempt organizations and Churches.
a) Groups founded for a particular mission may always
address the issues with which they are concerned, even when those issues
also happen to be the topic of political debate.
b) Groups may always conduct non-partisan voter
registration, education, and get-out-the-vote drives. The sense in which
these efforts are "non-partisan" is that they are not restricted to people
of one particular party, or to supporters of one particular candidate.
Moreover, in the course of such activity, the group does not endorse one or
c) Groups may teach about the responsibility of
government and of elected officials to protect human life. So, for example,
to say, "We have an obligation to participate in our nation's elections, and
to use our vote to advance a culture of life," is acceptable, as are
statements such as, "The first responsibility of public officials is to
secure the right to life of their people," and "Any public official who
supports abortion contradicts the most basic principles upon which our
nation was founded, and contradicts the very meaning of public service."
d) Groups may in fact make available for rent, at market
value, their mailing lists to political parties and candidates. These lists
may not, however, be donated as a gift to the candidate or party, and must
be made available to all candidates on the same terms.
e) Candidates may appear at the group's functions and
assemblies, provided no endorsement or solicitation of funds is made, and
provided other candidates have the same opportunity if they desire it.
f) Pastors and leaders of tax-exempt 510 (c) 3
organizations may individually and personally endorse candidates for
political office, but in doing so must make it clear that this is done in an
individual capacity, not as the leader of the organization, and may not use
any of the resources or vehicles of communication of the organization in
order to communicate such an endorsement. The person's full title in the
organization may be used for identification purposes.
These guidelines should not be construed as legal advice regarding your
particular situation. Groups should always consult their attorneys for
specific legal advice. Churches and pastors may also obtain legal advice
free of charge regarding their particular situation by contracting the James
Madison Center for Free Speech (www.jamesmadisoncenter.org) or the Alliance Defense Fund (www.alliancedefensefund.org).
It is helpful to keep in
mind some general principles that apply to tax-exempt organizations and
a) Groups founded for a
particular mission may always address the issues with which they
are concerned, even when those issues also happen to be the topic of political
b) Groups may always
conduct non-partisan voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote drives.
The sense in which these efforts are "non-partisan" is that they are not
restricted to people of one particular party, or to supporters of one particular
candidate. Moreover, in the course of such activity, the group does not endorse
one or another candidate.
c) Groups may teach
about the responsibility of government and of elected officials to protect human
life. So, for example, to say, "We have an obligation to participate in our
nation's elections, and to use our vote to advance a culture of life," is
acceptable, as are statements such as, "The first responsibility of public
officials is to secure the right to life of their people," and "Any public
official who supports abortion contradicts the most basic principles upon which
our nation was founded, and contradicts the very meaning of public service."
d) Groups may in fact make
available for rent, at market value, their mailing lists to political parties
and candidates. These lists may not, however, be donated as a gift to the
candidate or party, and must be made available to all candidates on the same
e) Candidates may appear at
the group's functions and assemblies, provided no endorsement or solicitation of
funds is made, and provided other candidates have the same opportunity if they
f) Pastors and leaders of
tax-exempt 510 (c) 3 organizations may individually and personally endorse
candidates for political office, but in doing so must make it clear that this is
done in an individual capacity, not as the leader of the organization, and may
not use any of the resources or vehicles of communication of the organization in
order to communicate such an endorsement. The person's full title in the
organization may be used for identification purposes.
General Material for
Priests for Life
Order the following materials from the Priests for
Life online store at
Voting with a Clear Conscience -
This booklet contains ten easy steps to help people participate in elections
in a way that takes into account the various moral considerations that
pertain to voting.
What does the Church teach about Life Issues?
- Published by Liguori, this booklet presents a proper understanding of the
"consistent ethic of life."
You Wouldn't Even Ask - This
brochure puts the abortion issue in context by comparing it to terrorism.
It makes the case that a politician who supports abortion is as unqualified
for public office as a candidate who supports terrorism.
Ten Responses to Pro-Abortion Politicians
- Many politicians attempt to dodge the abortion issue by putting up smoke
and mirrors to blame others or circumstances for their support of abortion.
This offers people short responses to such arguments.
Caesar Must Obey God -
Unfortunately, many Catholics have forgotten that life belongs to God.
In this piece, we remind them that government is subservient to God and that
man-made laws are only legitimate when they adhere to God's law.
Religious Beliefs, Abortion and the Law
– This brochure answers the criticism that we are trying to impose our
beliefs on others through the lawmakers we elect.
Are You a Single Issue Person? -
Political correctness tells people that it is not fashionable for a person
to vote on a single issue. Here, we remind Catholics that abortion is
a foundational issue upon which all other issues depend.
Documents from the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to
American Catholics - This document is a challenge to all
Catholics to embrace the founding principles of the United States and the
teachings of the Gospel of Life. It is a call to Catholics at all levels in
the Church, including the hierarchy, to take on an even greater public
witness regarding the sanctity of human life.
Faithful Citizenship – Every
four years, the United States bishops issue a message to all Catholics
regarding the importance of civic participation and the need to evaluate
issues in a way that advances human dignity and the common good. The titles
of these documents may vary each time they are issued; Priests for Life
always makes the full text available online.
72 Hour Plan/Getting Out
Each person has one vote, but each person can influence thousands of votes.
Many elections are close. Some elections have been decided by a single vote, and
many have been decided by margins far smaller than the list of the most active
members of your organization. The "72 Hour Plan" simply focuses on having your
members do all they can in the last three days before Election Day to actually
get people to the polls. Elections are ultimately won simply by having the
greater number of people show up to vote.
There are numerous efforts in which the members of your group can engage in the
final days before the election. Please make your members aware of some or all of
the following projects.
Encouraging Others to Vote
At meetings, in newsletters, and through all your other
channels of communication, simply urge your members to vote, and make the
invitation as often as possible as the election draws near.
If your group has an e-mail list, send out an e-mail to
your list the day before the election asking that your members come out to
vote. This does make a difference, because encouragement from a source that
they respect may get some to vote who otherwise would have allowed one or
another factor to get in their way.
The single most effective way to ensure that your group
members come out to vote on Election Day is to place live calls.
Organize a group of your members to make calls to as many on your list as
possible. This serves not only as a reminder to people that they have
a responsibility to vote, but also that the way that they vote is tied to
their faith and their pro-life position.
Helping People Get to the Polls
Although absentee ballots are available, many elderly or
incapacitated people either learn about them too late or simply do not know
how to obtain one. Sadly, this usually means that these people end up
not voting. Try compiling two separate lists, one of those who will
need rides to the polls, another of those who are willing to assist them in
getting to the polls. The latter are of the most help when they have
use of a car, though it is possible that they would simply be able to walk
or take public transportation with people who do not feel confident in being
able to make it to the polls by themselves.
In past elections, there were numerous charges made by
both Republicans and Democrats that election laws were broken on Election
Day. The best way to counteract this is to have your members
participate in poll watching. Poll watching is a very simple activity
with a minimal time commitment, although those who are most committed may
wish to take off Election Day to assist in the effort. Individuals can
simply contact either local party to volunteer. Typically either a
campaign or party will conduct a brief training seminar to acquaint
volunteers with the activity. Then, on Election Day, watchers ensure
that no laws are broken at the polling sites. While this may seem
insignificant, election irregularities have been involved with countless
close elections. Whether preventing intimidation at the polls or
ensuring that individuals receive only one ballot, poll watching is an
excellent way for people to fulfill their political responsibility.
Many states have adopted early voting programs separate
from absentee ballot programs. The dates that early voting begins vary from
state to state; sometimes this is in-person voting, other times it is by
mail. The advantage of early voting is that last minute obstacles that may
arise – like waking up sick on Election Day or encountering car trouble –
will not keep one from casting a ballot. If your state offers early voting,
inform your parishioners! The information for each state can be found at
Many organizations publish non-partisan voter guides to
inform their members of candidate positions. 501(c) 3 voter guides, i.e.
guides that neither indicate agreement with candidate positions nor advocate
the election or defeat of a candidate, can be published in your newsletters
and distributed among your members and by your members to the general
public. Information on how to find such voter guides is at
www.votinginfo.org. Please encourage your members at to view these and to
distribute them widely.
In the days and weeks leading up to Election Day,
volunteers are needed to distribute voter education materials.
Encourage your members to support local right to life groups who are
organizing literature distribution campaigns by volunteering for that
activity. You can invite them to sign up for volunteer activities at