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The dos and don'ts of political activity

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- During an election year, many active duty military members may wish to get involved in campaigning for their favorite candidate.
DoD Directive 1344.10 and Air Force Instruction 51-902 address the proper scope of political activity by members of the armed forces while on active duty.

An active duty servicemembers may: 

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

-- 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

-- Join a political club and attend its meetings, but not in uniform

-- 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

-- 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

-- 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

-- Make monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee favoring a particular candidate or slate of candidates, subject to statutory limitations

-- Attend partisan and non-partisan political meetings or rallies as a spectator when not in uniform

-- Display a political sticker on the member's private vehicle

An active duty servicemember may not:

-- Use official authority of influence for interfering with an election

-- Affect the course of outcome of an election

-- Solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue

-- Soliciting political contributions from others.

-- Be a candidate for civil office in federal, state or local government, except as authorized in Section 4 of Directive 1344.10,

-- Engage in public or organized soliciting of others to become partisan candidates for nomination or election to civil office.

-- Participate in partisan political management of campaigns, or conventions.

-- Make a campaign contribution to another member of the armed forces or an employee of the federal government.

-- 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.

-- Speak before a partisan political gathering of any kind for promoting a partisan political party or candidate.

-- Use contemptuous words against officeholders.

-- Perform clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee during a campaign or on an election day.

-- Solicit or otherwise engage in fundraising activities in federal offices or facilities, including military reservations, for a partisan cause or candidate.

-- Sell tickets for, or otherwise actively promote, political dinners and similar fundraising events.

-- Allow or cause to be published partisan political articles signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party or candidate.

-- Serve in any official capacity or sponsor a partisan political club.

-- Participate in any radio, TV, or other program or group discussions as a partisan advocate.

-- March or ride in a partisan political parade.

-- Display large political sign, banner, or poster on a private vehicle (bumper stickers are allowed).

-- Participate in any partisan effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls.

-- Attend partisan political events as an official representative of the armed forces or while in uniform.

If you have specific questions, consult DoD Directive 1344.10, AFI 51-902, or the legal office at 784-4131.