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News > Election season rules for military, civilian employees
Election season rules for military, civilian employees

Posted 3/23/2011   Updated 3/23/2011 Email story   Print story


by 375th Air Mobility Wing Legal Office

3/23/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- The consolidated election is April 5, and the 375th Air Mobility Wing Legal Office is reminding civilian employees and military members of the rules and regulations that apply to government employees.


Civilian employees must follow the guidelines of the Hatch Act. The Deputy Secretary of Defense released an official memorandum, dated May 31, 2006, providing the following guidance:

Civilians may:

Join a political party or partisan group, serve as officers of a political party or partisan group, and serve as delegates to a political party convention

Display political signs, stickers, buttons or similar material (but not while on duty, in a government office or building, or using a government vehicle)

Canvas for votes and distribute campaign literature

Manage a political campaign


Act as recorders, watchers or challengers at a polling place

Serve as election judges and drive voters to a polling place

Run for non-partisan office and make financial political contributions

Use work e-mail to discuss political subjects in a manner similar to water-cooler conversations (Employees may not use work email to send out messages to a large number people with whom they have a minimal relationship for the purpose of encouraging the recipients to support or oppose a candidate, political party, or partisan group).

Civilians may not:

Use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.
This includes:
· Using official titles while participating in a political activity
· Using authority to coerce another to participate in a political activity
· Soliciting or receiving uncompensated volunteer services from a subordinate
· Soliciting or receiving political contributions (except under limited circumstances in relation with certain local elections or Federal labor organizations and it cannot be anonymously over the phone)
· Allowing the use of their official titles in relation with political fundraising
· Hosting or sponsoring a political fundraiser (an employee's spouse may sponsor, and the employee may attend)
· Running for partisan office (except as independent candidates in certain local elections)
· Participating in a permitted political activity while on duty, in a government office or building, or while using a government vehicle.

The proceeding reminder is not an exhaustive list of permissible and prohibited activities for civilian employees. Additional statutory restrictions apply to career members of the Senior Executive Service that were not addressed in this article. If you are a member of the SES or if you need further clarification on the rules regarding civilians contact the legal office.


Military members should understand the laws and regulations that outline what constitutes appropriate participation in the political process.
Servicemembers may:

Register, vote and express opinions on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the U.S. armed forces

Attend partisan or nonpartisan political meetings, rallies or conventions as a spectator but not in uniform

Join a political club and attend meetings as a spectator

Display bumper stickers on a personally owned vehicle or wear campaign buttons on civilian clothes

Write a letter to the editor regarding public issues, but cannot promote a partisan political cause or candidate

Make a political contribution to an organization supporting a particular candidate, but cannot contribute to the candidate personally

Servicemembers may not:

Participate in partisan political campaigns, except as a spectator, or make public speeches related to such activity

Solicit votes or contributions for a particular candidate or issue

Use official government authority or influence to interfere with or affect the outcome of an election

Publish articles or opinions promoting or discouraging partisan political issues or candidates

Run for or hold civil office

Take an active role in partisan political activity, including:
· Serve in an official capacity
· Advocate in media
· Conduct opinion polls or other clerical duties during a campaign
· March in a parade
· Actively promote fundraisers
The proceeding reminder is not an exhaustive list of permissible and prohibited activities.
The JAG office approves this message.

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