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2016 Voting Schedule, Reminder about Campaign Activities

One of the greatest rights we enjoy as Americans is that of choosing our government leaders and to participate in that process. This includes, but is not limited to, voting, exercising your free speech rights in support of a candidate, and participating in campaigns.

Starting this week, early voting begins in Tennessee primary elections to select candidates who will be on the ballot for the general election in November. All UT employees who are eligible to vote are encouraged to participate in the primary and general elections:

Early Voting for Tennessee State Primary Election Date
Early Voting for Tennessee State Primary Election July 15 – July 30
Primary Election Aug. 4
Voter Registration Deadline for General Election Oct. 11
Early Voting for Tennessee General Election Oct. 19 – Nov. 3
General Election Nov. 8

It is important to remember that while enjoying and exercising our rights in this election year, federal and state laws impose certain restrictions on the campaign activities of public university employees and also on universities.

The Little Hatch Act (T.C.A. 2-19-201-208) applies to all state employees, including those in public higher education. Key provisions of the Act include:

  • It is unlawful to engage in any type of campaign activity on university time or with university resources (phones, computers, employee email accounts, etc.). However, the Act allows university employees to volunteer on a campaign and work to advance the candidacy of a person on the employee’s personal time and at his or her own expense.
  • Signage, buttons, decals, etc. that appear as endorsements in support of a current candidate(s) for public office should not be displayed on university property, such as in offices or classrooms. Employees are permitted to display campaign items on and in their personal vehicles parked on university property.

The Internal Revenue Service has determined that federal tax law prohibits tax exempt organizations, like public universities, and their employees from participating or intervening in any campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for federal, state or local public office in their official capacity. Therefore, employees should take steps to ensure that their campaign activities are not attributed to their university.

If you have questions about these laws or how they apply to the University of Tennessee, please call the UT Office of Government Relations and Advocacy at 615-741-8220.


UT Office of Government Relations and Advocacy

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