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Voting Office - Political Tips for the Armed Forces

Do's & Don'ts for Members of the Armed Forces
Political Activity While on Active Duty

During an election year, many active duty military members may wish to get involved in campaigning for their favorite candidate. What are the limits to their participation? Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, which covers Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces
on Active Duty says that an Active Duty member of the Armed Forces:

May register, vote, and express his or her personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.

May promote and encourage other military members to exercise their voting franchise, if such promotion does not constitute an attempt to influence or interfere with the outcome of an election.

May join a political club and attend its meetings when not in uniform.

May serve as an election official if such service is not as a representative of a partisan political party, does not interfere with military duties, is performed while not in uniform, and with prior approval of the Secretary concerned.

May sign a petition for specific legislative action or a petition to place a candidate's name on an official election ballot, if the signing does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and is done as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Armed Forces.

May write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing the member's personal views on public issues or political candidates, if such action is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign or concerted solicitation of votes for or against a political party or partisan cause or
candidate.

May make monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee favoring a particular candidate or slate of candidates.

May display a political sticker on the member's private vehicle.


The same Defense Directive 1344.10, says that Active Duty members of the Armed Forces may not engage in certain activities. Members of the Armed Forces:

May not use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.

May not be a candidate for civil office in Federal, State or local government, or engage in public or organized soliciting of others to become partisan candidates for nomination or election to civil office.

May not participate in partisan political management or campaigns, or make public speeches in the course thereof.

May not make a campaign contribution to another member of the Armed Forces or to a civilian officer or an employee of the United States for promoting a political objective or cause.

May not solicit or receive a campaign contribution from another member of the Armed Forces or from a civilian officer or employee of the United States for promoting a political objective or cause.

May not speak before a partisan political gathering of any kind for promoting a partisan political party or candidate.

May not use contemptuous words against officeholders described in 10 USC 888.

May not perform clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee during a campaign or on an election day.

May not solicit or otherwise engage in fundraising activities in Federal offices or facilities, including military reservations, for a partisan political cause or candidate.

May not sell tickets for, or otherwise actively promote, political dinners and similar fundraising events.

May not allow or cause to be published partisan political articles signed or written by the
member that solicit votes for or against a partisan political party or candidate.

May not serve in any official capacity or sponsor a partisan political club.

May not participate in any media or group discussions as a partisan advocate.

May not conduct a political opinion survey.

May not march or ride in a partisan political parade.

May not display a large political sign, banner, or poster on a private vehicle (bumper
stickers are allowed).

May not participate in any partisan effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls.

May not attend partisan political events as an official representative of the Armed Forces or while in uniform.

This list is only meant as a guide. If you have specific questions consult DoD Directive 1344.10 or your legal or JAG officer.