Policies and Guidelines for On-Campus Political Activity This Election Season

graphic promoting early voting

In the countdown to the 2020 elections, members of the Duke community are encouraged to participate in political activities but are reminded that they can not use university facilities, funds, services, personnel or other resources to support or oppose individuals or organizations campaigning for public office.

A variety of university groups made up of students, faculty and staff will be involved in promoting political engagement by the Duke community. Polis: The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service has created a Duke Votes website that provides resources for students and members of the Duke community interested in voter registration efforts and non-partisan political engagement.

Early voting will once again be held on campus from Oct. 15 to 31 at the Karsh Alumni Center at 2080 Duke University Road. Students and employees who are eligible to vote in Durham County are encouraged to use the on-campus early voting site.  Individuals interested in getting an absentee ballot can do so from the State Board of Elections. Getting an absentee ballot does not prevent you from voting in person, but if you do vote in person, it is recommended that you bring the ballot to the polling site.

Because Duke is a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, there are legal limitations on permissible political activity on campus, engagement with congressional and federal executive branch officials and state officials, and lobbying.

For example, faculty and staff should only use personal e-mail, social media or other online accounts (and not duke.edu accounts or other Duke electronic resources) for the distribution of campaign messages, petitions, and similar material. Duke Zoom and other university accounts should not be used for convening or attending political meetings, events or fundraisers.

The pandemic will also affect political activity: The Duke campus is currently closed to visitors and no events are permitted.  Candidates or their representatives will only be permitted to visit the specified areas around the early voting station from October 15-31.

For more information related to university policies and guidelines for political activities on campus, visit the Office of Government Relations website.