Rules govern military and political activity

As autumn approaches in an election year, it is a good time to review the rules that govern military members’ involvement in political activity. It is important to carefully review the rules and to ask questions if you are not sure if your proposed political activity is permitted.

Generally speaking, rules can be categorized in two ways – what servicemembers may do and what they may not do.

Military members MAY:
• Register to vote, vote, and express a purely personal opinion on political issues and candidates
• Make monetary contributions to a political organization/party
• Attend political meetings or rallies as a spectator – but not in uniform
• Join a political club and attend meetings – but not in uniform
• Serve as an election official as long as the following criteria are met: service must not be as a representative of a partisan party, must not interfere with military duties, must be performed out of uniform and must obtain prior approval from the major command commander
• Sign a petition as a private citizen and not as a representative of the military
• Display a political sticker on your private vehicle (normal type bumper sticker)
Military members MAY NOT:
• Attend political parties, display political preferences and/or express political views while in uniform and/or as representatives for the United States Armed Forces
• Use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
• Solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or solicit political contributions from others
• Participate in political management, campaigns, or conventions or make public speeches, including speaking on the radio or television on behalf of a partisan candidate
• Conduct political surveys on behalf of a partisan candidate
• Distribute political literature on behalf of a partisan candidate
• Perform clerical or other duties during a campaign or on Election Day on behalf of a partisan candidate
• Engage in or solicit fundraising activities in Federal offices or facilities on behalf of a partisan candidate
• March or ride in a political parade on behalf of a partisan candidate
• Provide transportation to the polls for voters on behalf of a partisan political candidate
• Recruit others to become partisan political candidates for nomination or election to civil office
• Make campaign contributions towards a partisan political candidate
• Run for a civil office or hold a civil office (there are exceptions to this and if you are considering running for political office, you should consult the legal office first for guidance)

For further guidance regarding political activities please refer to AFI 51-902.
U.S. civilian employees are subject to different rules, about which more information is available from the Civilian Personnel Office.

For questions regarding voting, visit the 435th Air Base Wing Web site, or direct questions to the Ramstein Installation Voting Assistance Officer at (Courtesy of the Ramstein Law Center)