Non-profit

Fair Elections Center

Website:

www.fairelectionscenter.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

81-5447067

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $298,031
Expenses: $274,160
Assets: $30,500

Formation:

2006 (as Fair Elections Legal Network)

Former Project of:

New Venture Fund

Formerly:

Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN)

President and CEO:

Robert Brandon

Fair Elections Center (formerly the Fair Elections Legal Network) is a left-of-center litigation and election policy advocacy nonprofit created in 2006. The group originated as a project of the center-left funding and fiscal sponsorship group New Venture Fund; it has since been incubated into an independent nonprofit and was officially launched in 2018. [1] [2] [3]

Voter Registration and Advocacy

Voting Policy Litigation

The Fair Elections Center engages in litigation efforts to change election administration policy, overturn voter identification laws, and extend voting rights to felons. The group disparages Republican efforts to reform election policy as “voter suppression legislation.” As of July 2020, the group had engaged in litigation (often in support of other left-of-center litigation groups) in North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Alabama, Kansas, Georgia, and Virginia. [4]

The Fair Elections Center was a co-litigant in the successful 2016 lawsuit to restore felons’ voting rights in Virginia (Howell v. McAuliffe). [5]

In its IRS Form 990 filing for 2018, the Fair Elections Center described its litigation work: [6]

LITIGATION: The Fair Elections Center’s legal team focuses on cases where we can leverage our expertise and state and federal laws to have maximum impact to bring down barriers to registration and voting that affect traditionally underrepresented constituencies, students and youth, the elderly, language minority and immigrant communities, and communities of color.

Our work has successfully focused on challenging registration laws that discriminate against naturalized citizens and administrative processes or interpretations that unconstitutionally deny voting rights to former felons, 17-year-olds who will be 18 on Election Day.

In 2018, we won a major victory when a federal court ruled that Florida’s arbitrary felon rights restoration system was unconstitutional. We researched and prepared a similar case in Kentucky and readied a case that challenges Wisconsin’s limit on using student IDs for voter ID. We also investigated problems that could lead to future cases on behalf of students, low wage and shift workers, language minority citizens, and other underrepresented communities who have faced undue obstacles to registration and voting.

Felon Voting Rights Litigation

The Fair Elections Center was involved in a 2020 lawsuit to restore voting rights to convicted felons in Kentucky (as of July 2020). According to a 6-month activity report (archived here), the group had joined the Kentucky Equal Justice Center in filing a lawsuit on behalf of 8 “former felons” to overturn “Kentucky’s arbitrary process for voting rights restoration” that requires felons to apply to regain the right to vote. According to the litigants, Kentucky has 242,987 felons who cannot vote after serving their full sentences. [7]

“Power to the Polls”

The Fair Elections Center is one of ten organizations that co-launched “Power to the Polls” in June 2020, an effort to recruit thousands of election workers amidst the Coronavirus. Other organizations supporting the project are Civic Alliance, Comedy Central, Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, Time To Vote, Pizza to the Polls, MTV, Uber and We Can Vote. [8]

Activist Projects

Work Elections

Work Elections is a website project of the Fair Elections Center which collects information on poll worker requirements in the 50 states with the goal of increasing the number of volunteer workers at polling locations ahead of elections. According to its website, the project is funded by the Democracy Fund, a left-of-center grantmaking and advocacy group funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. [9]

Campus Vote Project

Campus Vote Project is a website created by the Fair Elections Center in 2012 which aims to register young Americans to vote and collects information on voter identification laws, registration deadlines, and other pertinent voting information. Campus Vote Project is closely aligned with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), which coordinates student voter registration in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In 2018, NASPA received $13,450 from the Fair Elections Center to support these efforts. [10] [11]

Lynette Quintero oversees the Campus Vote Project on the Fair Election Center’s board of directors. [12]

According to the Fair Election Center’s 2018 Form 990 IRS filing, the project’s mission is described as: [13]

Campus Vote Project (CVP) works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting. The program helps campus leadership institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote. College students face special challenges when attempting to register and vote in their college communities. They lack information about voter registration rules and deadlines, sometimes do not have acceptable ID for voter registration or voting purposes, are confused about where to vote, may not have transportation to the polls and, occasionally, are confronted by unfriendly or unsympathetic elections officials or poll workers.

In recent years, a number of state legislatures around the country have pursued new laws that seek to limit access to the polls with particularly damaging effects for student voters. Campus Vote Project seeks to address these challenges by providing up-to-date voting information and working with schools to deliver it to their students at key points of interactions like orientation and class registration.

CVP also develops best practices to get information to all enrolled students during voter registration, early voting and on election day that will result in higher student voter turnout. In 2018, CVP formally partnered with 150 campuses where approximately 22 million students were enrolled.

Leadership

Chief Executive Officer

Robert “Bob” Brandon is president and CEO of the Fair Election Center. In 2018, his total compensation was $211,019. [14]

Brandon previously worked as a consultant to the National Association of Community Health Centers, where he advised the group’s national advocacy director on the passage and implementation. of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) from 2010 to 2015. From 2008 to 2010, he was a senior advisor to Health Care For America Now (HCAN), a 501(c)(4) advocacy group formed by left-wing advocacy organizations and labor unions to pressure Congress into passing legislation to increase government intervention in the health care system such as Obamacare in 2010. From 1983 to 1993, Brandon was the Washington director for Citizen Action, a now-defunct “public interest” litigation and advocacy group founded by activist Ralph Nader. [15]

Board of Directors

In 2018, the Fair Election Center’s board of directors consisted of the following individuals: [16]

  • Robert Brandon, president and CEO
  • David Fineman, board chair: managing partner, Fineman Krekstein & Harris P.C. [17]
  • Lavita McMath Turner, board vice chair
  • Toby Chaudhuri, board treasurer: co-founder of SocialxDesign, a Democratic consulting firm; former communications consultant to the Obama administration (2010-2014) [18]
  • Gail Siegel: communications director, former Cook County clerk David Orr (D) [19]
  • Carmen Berkley: managing director, Planned Parenthood Action Fund [20]
  • Eric Rodriguez: vice president of research/advocacy/legislation, UnidosUS [21]
  • Justin Levitt
  • Lynette Quintero: director, Campus Vote Project (project of Fair Elections Center) [22]

Funding

The Fair Elections Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. From 2008 to 2016, it was a project of the New Venture Fund, a fiscal sponsorship and pass-through nonprofit created and administered by the for-profit consultancy Arabella Advisors in Washington, DC. It has since obtained stand-alone tax-exempt status.

Financial Overview

In 2018, the Fair Elections Center reported total revenues of $2.4 million (all of which came from grants), total expenditures of nearly $1.6 million (including $60,950 in grants paid), and net assets of $888,703. [23]

In 2017 (its first year as a standalone nonprofit), the Fair Elections Center reported total revenues of $298,000 (all of which came from grants), total expenditures of $274,160, and net assets of $23,871. [24]

Donors to Fair Elections Center

The Fair Elections Center received a number of grants from liberal foundations during its existence as a New Venture Fund project, including the Tides Foundation, Summer Fund II, Irving Harris Foundation, and Herb Block Foundation. [25] [26] [27] [28]

FoundationAmountYearGrant Description
Kresge Foundation$135,0002020
Barbara McDowell and Gerald S. Hartmann Foundation$40,0002020
Kresge Foundation$100,0002019
Democracy Fund$125,0002019
George Gund Foundation$100,0002018Operating support and voter education.
Democracy Fund$75,0002018Program support for workelections.com
Leaves of Grass Fund$40,0002018CHARITABLE
BLT Charitable Trust$8,0002018FURTHER CHARITABLE PURPOSE
Fresh Sound Foundation$5,0002018EDUCATIONAL
Carnegie Corporation Of New York$175,0002017FOR AN INITIATIVE TO EXPAND VOTING ACCESS FOR UNDERREPRESENTED CONSTITUENCIES LUDING YOUNG PEOPLE
Leaves Of Grass Fund$33,0002017CHARITABLE
Tides Foundation$25,0002017General support
Carnegie Corporation Of New York$25,0002017FOR AN INITIATIVE TO EXPAND VOTING ACCESS FOR UNDERREPRESENTED CONSTITUENCIES LUDING YOUNG PEOPLE
Murray & Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation$15,0002017Governmental
Murray & Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation$15,0002017Governmental
William B Wiener Jr Foundation$15,0002017Charitable purpose of recipient
Project High Hopes$5,0002016General Support
John S. And James L. Knight Foundation$35,0002015TO REASE CIVIC PARTICIPATION BY PROTOTYPING THE VOTE WORKER DATA PROJECT WHICH WILL USE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE DATA TO REASE POLL WORKER DIVERSITY BY TRANSFORMING THE PROCESS OF RECRUITMENT.
William B Wiener Jr Foundation$30,0002015Charitable purpose of recipient
Herb Block Foundation$10,0002015Campus vote project
Herb Block Foundation$10,0002014Campus vote project
Rockefeller Family Fund$30,0002013Encourages the active participation of citizens in government seeks to make government and private institutions more accountable and responsive and supports efforts to ensure that individuals' rights and liberties under the constitution ar
Herb Block Foundation$15,0002013Campus vote project
Open Society Institute$50,0002012To provide those in foreclosure with the right voting information and to reach out to election officials and the media to publicize the right to vote of those facing foreclosure
Rockefeller Family Fund$30,0002012Cpga
Tides Foundation$20,0002012General support for fair elections legal network
Tides Foundation$12,5002012Fair elections legal network's general support
Tides Foundation$10,0002012General support for fair elections legal network
Herb Block Foundation$10,0002011Student civic engagement and non-student youth
Irving Harris Foundation$25,0002011Project Support
Summer Fund II$10,0002011General operating support/annual gift
Summer Fund II$5,0002010General operating support/annual gift
Tides Foundation$17,5002010General support for fair elections legal network
Tides Foundation$30,0002008Election protection and election administration reform program
Tides Foundation$25,0002008Election administration work in New Mexico Colorado Pennsylvania and North Carolina
Tides Foundation$10,0002008Fair elections legal network's legal support for youth voter registration and GOTV work
Tides Foundation$40,0002007
Ada Brandon Charitable Foundation$7,5002007General donation
Ada Brandon Charitable Foundation$10,0002006General donation
Total:$1,378,500

Grants from Fair Elections Center

In 2018, the Fair Elections Center paid out grants to other nonprofits totaling $60,950: [29]

  • University of Texas, Austin: $15,500 for “Texas voting summit”
  • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA): $13,450 for “SLSVC funding for VFC program”
  • Shippensburg University: $6,000 for “Pennsylvania accelerator grant”
  • California University of Pennsylvania: $6,000 for “Pennsylvania accelerator grant”

References

  1. “Philadelphia Attorney S. David Fineman Named Chair of Fair Elections Center; Group to Fight for Voting Rights for Long Underrepresented Constituencies.” Markets Insider. May 16, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/philadelphia-attorney-s-david-fineman-named-chair-of-fair-elections-center-group-to-fight-for-voting-rights-for-long-underrepresented-constituencies-1024700044# ^
  2. “Donate to Fair Elections Legal Network.” DonationPay.org (Web Archive). Archived February 20, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20160220001844/https://secure.donationpay.org/fairelectionsnetwork/ ^
  3. “Grantees.” Herb Block Foundation. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.herbblockfoundation.org/programs/grantees ^
  4. “Litigation.” Fair Elections Center.” Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.fairelectionscenter.org/litigation ^
  5. “Restoration of Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights (2016).” Fair Elections Center. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.fairelectionscenter.org/howell-v-mcauliffe ^
  6. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Additional Data for Part III, Line 4b. ^
  7. “6-Month Report.” Fair Elections Center. March 30, 2020. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Fair-Elections-Center-2020-Six-Month-Report.-07.13.20.pdf ^
  8. Rachel Janfaza. “Groups launch effort to mobilize poll workers amid coronavirus pandemic.” CNN. June 30, 2020. Accessed Jul 13, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/poll-workers-recruiting-effort/index.html ^
  9. “About.” Work Elections. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.workelections.com/p/about ^
  10. “About.” Campus Vote Project. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.campusvoteproject.org/about ^
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part I. Line 13. Schedule I. ^
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part VII. ^
  13. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Additional Data for Part III, Line 4a. ^
  14. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part VII. ^
  15. “Bob Brandon: LinkedIn profile.” Accessed July 13, 2020. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Robert-Brandon-LinkedIn.-07.13.20.png ^
  16. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part VII. ^
  17. “Philadelphia Attorney S. David Fineman Named Chair of Fair Elections Center; Group to Fight for Voting Rights for Long Underrepresented Constituencies.” Markets Insider. May 16, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/philadelphia-attorney-s-david-fineman-named-chair-of-fair-elections-center-group-to-fight-for-voting-rights-for-long-underrepresented-constituencies-1024700044# ^
  18. “Toby Chaudhuri: LinkedIn profile.” Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobychaudhuri/ ^
  19. Lawrence Norden. “Voting System Failures: A Database Solution.” Brennan Center for Justice. Published 2010. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/Report_Voting_Machine_Failures_Database-Solution.pdf ^
  20. “Speaker Profile: Carmen Berkley.” Netroots Nation. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.netrootsnation.org/profile/carmen-berkley/ ^
  21. “Workelections.com, First Multi-State Site to Centralize Poll Worker Applications.” Capital Soup. October 16, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://capitalsoup.com/2018/10/16/workelections-com-first-multi-state-site-to-centralize-poll-worker-applications/ ^
  22. “Lynette Quintero: LinkedIn profile.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynettequintero/ ^
  23. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part I. Lines 8, 12, 13, 18, 22. ^
  24. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2017. Part I. Lines 8, 12, 18, 22. ^
  25. Data provided by Foundation Search. Donors to Fair Elections Center/Fair Elections Legal Network. Search conducted July 13, 2020. www.FoundationSearch.org ^
  26. “Fair Elections Center: Why We Invested.” Democracy Fund (archived). Accessed July 13, 2020. Original URL: http://legacy.democracyfund.org/portfolio/entry/fair-elections-center. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Democracy-Fund-grants-to-Fair-Elections-Center.-07.13.20.pdf ^
  27. “Our Grants for 2020.” Barbara McDowell and Gerald S. Hartman Foundation. Accessed July 13, 2020. Original URL: https://mcdowellfoundation.org/our-grants-2020. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Barbara-McDowell-Gerald-Hartman-Fdn-grants-2019.pdf ^
  28. “Grants Awarded: Fair Elections Center.” The Kresge Foundation. 2019-2019. Accessed July 13, 2020.

    Original URL (2020 grant): https://kresge.org/grant/fair-elections-center-0. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Kresge-Foundation-grant-to-Fair-Elections-Center-2020.-07.13.20.pdf.

    Original URL (2019 grant): https://kresge.org/grant/fair-elections-center. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/07/Kresge-Foundation-grant-to-Fair-Elections-Center-2019.-07.13.20.pdf ^

  29. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fair Elections Center. 2018. Part I. Line 13. Schedule I. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. Blueprint NC

Supported Movements

  1. Vote Early Day
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2017

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $298,031 $274,160 $30,500 $6,629 N $298,000 $0 $31 $14,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Fair Elections Center

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