Voters’ Guides: Advertising Guidance

A best practice is to avoid candidate advertisement in your Voters’ Guides altogether. Your Board should not accept any advertising that includes an electioneering message or any express advocacy. Some partners, such as media partners, may insist on paying for the space through advertising. In such cases, the local Board should use its own judgment and discretion in deciding whether to accept advertisements, including candidate advertisements. If your Board is considering allowing advertising in your Voters’ Guide you should consider the following:

What types of advertisements you are willing to accept – e.g. products or services only advertisements (shampoo, cookies, automobiles, realtors, banks, etc), and not willing to accept – e.g. candidate advertisements (Vote for Wonder Woman on November 1st, etc) or political/issue advertisements (political parties or advocacy groups, etc).

Placement of advertisements. Again, we advise against the inclusion of candidate ads in your Voters’ Guides. However, if advertisements are acceptable to your Board, consider one of the following options. Especially if accepting candidate advertisements, Leagues need to minimize the chance that the advertising could be perceived as favoring one candidate or party over another. Consider: (a) all advertisements must be confined to a specific section of the Voters’ Guide such as the inside panel of the last page only or a single page elsewhere in the Voters’ Guide; (b) candidate advertisements may only appear on pages associated with that candidate; (c) support from any candidate or political party/organization may only be acknowledged through a listing of supporters on the inside of the back page; or (d) other.

Advertisement specifications – e.g. are different sized advertisements allowed at different prices, are color and/or black and white ads allowed at different prices, etc.? Might some of these differences result in the appearance of a League preference for one candidate or party more than another?

How the availability of advertising space will be promoted – e.g. (a) will the League (and/or partner) actively solicit support from corporations, (b) will the League alert all candidates of this opportunity in their communications about participating in the Voters’ Guide, (c) will the League decide on a case-by-case basis as potential advertisers approach the League? (This case-by-case approach should only apply to product and service advertisements.) Will another approach be used?

How will advertisements be accepted – e.g. on a first come first serve basis, or if candidate/political advertising is allowed will they be accepted only on an equal basis (e.g. Leagues cannot run ads for candidates for only one party), etc.  Leagues that decide to accept advertising should insert the word “advertising” above or below any advertisement.  Fees associated with advertising are not tax-deductible.

Leagues should either display information in the Voters’ Guide regarding the process the League used to promote and accept advertising, and/or direct readers to a place on your Web site where they may learn more about your process.  Leagues should also prominently display a disclaimer such as “Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, candidate, issue, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the LWV of XX.”