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General Election FAQs

FAQs on Campaign Activity for Faculty and Staff 

As a public university, CSUSM and our employees (including staff, faculty, student-employees, and volunteers representing the university in an official capacity) are subject to a number of restrictions and regulations on campaign activity. These include state and federal law as well as CSU BOT policies and CSUSM specific campus policies.  

The CSU’s Office of General Counsel has produced a comprehensive handbook on election issues for campuses available here. For ease of reference, we have provided some frequently asked questions below on common elections and campaign activity questions facing faculty and staff. If you have an issue or a question which is not addressed below, please reach out to Office of Government Relations at

  • Can campaigns conduct political activity on campus such as handing out campaign literature, contacting voters, recruiting student volunteers, etc.?
    •  Yes, as a public institution our campus is open to all, however, campaigns may not disrupt instruction and must adhere to CSUSM’s time, place, and manner policies.  
    • Generally, public spaces like the plaza are appropriate for campaign activity, but classroom spaces, offices, or other areas where instructional disruptions may occur are not appropriate.  
    • Campaigns do not need to register with any CSUSM official to be present on campus. An exception to this is if they are bringing equipment like tents or tables that may need a space reservation from Events and Conference Services. 
  • Can campaigns post printed political materials on campus?
    Campaigns are able to post printed materials like campaign posters on campus as long as they abide by CSUSM’s posting and time, place, and manner policies. 
  • Can I invite an elected official or candidate for office to come speak virtually or in-person to my class, department, or campus organization?
    •  Elected officials and candidates may come to campus (including virtually) to speak, but University policy requires that these visits be arrange by the Office of Government Relations to ensure compliance with CSUSM and CSU policies, federal and state ethics laws, and other restrictions.  
    • If you are interested in inviting an elected official or candidate to speak to your class, organization, or staff, please contact the Office of Government Relations at
  • Can the University host a debate?
    Debates are permitted but the University may not limit the debate to a particular party or viewpoint. All candidates or sides must be provided a fair opportunity to present their opinions.  
  • Can I wear a political button to work, or hang a political poster in my office?
    • Employees are allowed to wear a political button barring any specific clothing restrictions based on uniform requirements or health and safety regulations for specific staff classifications. 
    • Political posters can be displayed in areas which are generally regarded as private space. This could include the interior of dormitory rooms and private office space, depending on the size and nature of the poster, and whether it creates any ambiguity about an “official” position being taken (e.g. office space which is open and adjoined to other public areas).  
    • State funds cannot be used to produce or distribute any of these buttons, posters or other personal political items.  
  • Can I use my email for personal political activity?
    • Political activity is not appropriate on CSUSM provided email accounts for employees. For example, an employee should not use a campus listserv to encourage recipients to vote for a particular candidate. 
    • However, as campus email accounts for students are generally provided for personal use, students are able to use their campus email accounts for personal political activity.  
  • Are campus organizations allowed to engage in political activity?
    •  Organizations affiliated with campus (such as Academic Senate) may take positions on matters that go before the electorate. However, they cannot spend state funds to publicize the position except to the extent that the position would be included in regular non-political communications like meeting minutes or newsletters. They should also include a statement that the position is not endorsed by CSUSM. 
    • Student groups are able to engage in political activity but they must not use CSU funds to sponsor political movements. Organization should track funding and use separate accounts so they can show public funds were not used. 
  • I want to encourage my students to vote, can I give them a gift card or extra credit for voting?
    Faculty and staff can encourage students to vote (in fact they’re encouraged to encourage!) but federal law prohibits any kind of benefit or reward for voting in an election in which federal candidates are on the ballot. Faculty cannot provide extra credit for voting, nor can staff or other employees provide incentives such as free food with an “I voted” sticker, or other similar incentives.  
  • As a state employee, can I still engage in campaign activity?
    • Absolutely. Employees retain their rights to engage in private political activities. All employees are entitled to make statements in support of a particular candidate, political party, ballot initiative, etc., but must do so in an individual capacity.  
    • Activity should be on the employee’s own time, it should not be performed in an official capacity with the CSUSM, and should not utilize any CSUSM resources.  
    • Employees should minimize any possibility of confusion of private role versus CSUSM role, and they should not wear a CSUSM logo while engaging in political activity.  
  • I want to write a letter to the editor supporting a ballot measure or a candidate, can I identify myself as a CSUSM employee?
    All employees are entitled to provide written endorsements or position letters, but only in an individual capacity. If an employee’s CSUSM title is identified, it should be accompanied by “for identification purposes only.”