Political Activity

The following resources assist with understanding the legal regulations governing the campaign activities of public employees.

Political Activity on Campus: Memorandum by the American Council on Education on Political Campaign-Related Activities of and at Colleges and Universities.

Memorandum published by the American Council on Education (ACE) on political campaign-related activities on campus. The memorandum is designed to educate staff on ways to become involved in elections, both through the institution and as individuals. It focuses primarily on 501(c)(3) tax-exempt institutions.

Charities, Churches, and Educational Organizations - Political Campaign Intervention (IRS Web page)


By virtue of becoming an employee of Arizona State University, with limited exceptions (1), one does not give up constitutional rights to participate in the political process.

However, ASU, through the Arizona Board of Regents, is funded in significant part by state appropriations. As a faculty or staff member of ASU, one is provided with office space, and support services (e.g., computers, printers, telephones, voice mail, fax machines, photocopy machines, e-mail accounts, intra-campus mail services, fleet management, paper, ink, envelops, pens, etc.) to perform the job duties efficiently and effectively. This property, equipment and supplies are all owned by and/or considered to be "university property." Thus, ARS § 15-1633 prohibits the use of university personnel and resources to influence the outcome of elections. An employee of a publicly funded, state university has rights and responsibilities if/when participating in political activity (2).

A simple way to distinguish permissible activities from prohibited activities is to refrain from engaging in political activity on university time or with university resources and/or property. Political activities should be conducted on your own personal time and with your own personal resources.


(1) Arizona Constitution, article IV, part 2, § 5 prohibits employees of the State of Arizona from serving in the state legislature unless employed as a teacher or instructor in the public school system. Accordingly, faculty may hold a state legislative office; however, academic professionals (except those who are course instructors), university staff and classified staff members cannot serve unless they resign their university position.

(2) This summary does not address the permissible scope of activities of:

  1. lobbyists on behalf of ASU,
  2. affiliated entities of ASU (e.g., Arizona State University Foundation, Arizona State University Alumni Association), or
  3. students enrolled at ASU.

Permissible Activities

One may:

  • Join the political party of choice.
  • Vote in any municipal, special district, school, county, state, or federal election.
  • Circulate and sign candidate nomination or recall petitions, ballot initiatives or referenda (only in permissible university areas).
  • Make contributions to candidates, political parties, or campaign committees.
  • Solicit contributions on behalf of candidates.
  • Express an opinion; display badges, buttons, and bumper stickers.
  • Attend meetings for the purpose of becoming informed about candidates for public office or about political issues.

Prohibited Activities

One cannot:

  • Expressly use the university's name or implied endorsement by the university of a particular candidate; for example, one cannot use:
    • ASU letterhead
    • ASU e-mail accounts
    • ASU telephone lines (phone and fax) and voice mail systems.
  • State (orally or in writing) that one is speaking for or on behalf of ASU.
  • Use university property, equipment, or supplies, such as:
    • ASU telephones (including cell phones)
    • ASU Mail Services
    • ASU photocopiers
    • ASU fax machines
    • ASU computers, laptops, or e-mail accounts
    • stationery, paper, envelopes purchased by the university
    • university generated electronic data (any request must comply with Arizona's Public Records Act, ARS § 39-121 et seq.).
  • Use ASU buildings, walls and grounds to post campaign signs for any candidates or ballot initiatives or referendums. Exceptions:
    • a student residing in a university residence hall may display a campaign sign on his or her room's wall, door, or window, and
    • ASU may rent or lease its facilities to partisan or ballot measure groups on the same basis and conditions as other groups who are permitted to rent or lease its facilities under a Facilities Use Agreement and during the period of rental or lease, the group post signs on walls or fences of the facility space being rented or leased.
  • Use university time to engage in political activities during regularly assigned work hours.
  • Hold a state senate or house of representative seat (unless faculty member or academic professional who has primary responsibility for course instruction). However, other university employees may run, but if elected, must resign their university position.

Some of the legal material found at this site has been abridged from laws, regulations, court decisions, administrative rulings, ABOR and ASU policies and other sources. Further details may be necessary for complete analysis and understanding in particular matters. The information contained at this site, and related links, is not a substitute for professional legal counsel. Any discrepancy between the information at this site and ASU policy is not intended to alter or amend official ASU policy or procedure.

Any links to non-Arizona State University information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement by the Arizona Board of Regents or Arizona State University of the linked materials.