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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2006-19: Local party communications not FEA

July 1, 2006

A local party committee’s mass mailing and pre-recorded, electronically dialed telephone calls to the party’s registered voters do not constitute get-out-the-vote activity (GOTV) or federal election activity (FEA), because they promote only nonfederal candidates, will not be made in close proximity to the date of the election, are insufficiently targeted and are not individualized. As a result, the party may pay for the communications entirely with nonfederal funds.


The Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee (LACDP) proposes to make prerecorded, electronically dialed telephone calls and send direct mail to voters in the City of Long Beach urging them to vote for local candidates. These communications indicate the date of the election. The election for local candidates occurs on same day as a federal primary election in the state, but the party’s communications will not mention any federal candidates.

The Act and Commission regulations identify certain activities conducted by state, district and local parties as FEA, regardless of whether the party is registered with the FEC. These activities must be paid for with either federal funds or a combination of federal and Levin funds. 2 U.S.C. 431(20) and 441i(b)(1).¹ One type of FEA is voter identification, GOTV and generic campaign activity conducted in connection with an election in which a candidate for federal office appears on the ballot. GOTV activity is defined as contacting registered voters by telephone, in person or by other individualized means to assist them in engaging in the act of voting. 11 CFR 100.24(a)(3). GOTV includes, but is not limited to:

  • Providing individual voters information such as the date of the election, the times when polling places are open and the location of particular polling places; and
  • Offering to transport or actually transporting voters to the polls.


LACPD’s proposed communications promote the election of only nonfederal candidates. Additionally, the party would distribute the communications four or more days prior to the election, so they are less effective in motivating recipients to go to the polls. This is more likely to be “mere encouragement” to vote and regulating them is unnecessary and could adversely affect grassroots political activities.

Moreover, LACDP would not target the communications at any specific subset of Democratic voters. The direct mail piece is merely a form letter and the pre-recorded telephone calls are the functional equivalent. Additionally, while the communications do mention the election date, they do not include additional information such as the hours and location of the individual voter’s polling place. Given these facts, the communications do not provide individualized assistance to voters, and thus fall outside the definitions of GOTV and FEA. As a result, the communications may be paid for entirely with nonfederal funds.

Concurring opinion

Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky issued a concurring opinion on June 5, 2006.

Date: June 5, 2004

Length: 6 pages

¹ Federal funds are subject to the amount limitations, source prohibitions and reporting requirements of the Act. Levin funds are raised by state, district and local party committees pursuant to the restrictions in 11 CFR 300.31 and disbursed subject to the restrictions in 11 CFR 300.32.

  • Author 
    • Carlin Bunch