An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Election guidance for military members and civilians

  • Published
  • By Abigail Cole
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

As election season approaches, please remember that all members of the Armed Forces, including active duty members, members of the reserve component not on active duty and retired members, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events.

Please do not engage in activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating with the Department of Defense. This includes any component or personnel of the department with a partisan political activity or anything otherwise contrary to the spirit and intention of the policy guidance.

Below are more detailed guidelines for what military members and civilians can and cannot do while adhering to policy guidance in Air Force Instruction 51-508.

Public Demonstrations for Military Members

CAN:

Express your opinions and participate in peaceful nonpartisan public demonstrations when OFF-DUTY and NOT in Uniform.

CANNOT:

Engage in partisan political activity or act in a manner that could imply Air Force approval or disapproval of any political party, campaign candidate in a partisan elections.

Attempt to influence the voting of any other service member (other than general encouragement to participate in the election process).

Actively participate in a public demonstration that is organized by a political party, campaign or candidate.

Actively participate in a public demonstration that is likely to become violent or a breach of peace.

Social Media Guidelines for Military Members

CAN:

Use social media to promote and encourage others to vote, without using your official authority or influence to interfere with the outcome of any election.

Express personal, non-partisan views over personal social media.

"Friend," "like" or "follow" the social media page or account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign or group when off duty.

CANNOT:

Suggest that others "like," "friend," or "follow" a partisan account.

Post, share or link to material from a partisan political party, group, or candidate, even when off duty.

Civilian Guidance for Public Demonstrations

CAN:

Express your opinions and participate in peaceful non-partisan public demonstrations when OFF-DUTY and NOT wearing an identifying badge/uniform.

CANNOT:

Engage in partisan political activity or act in a manner that could imply Air Force approval or disapproval of any political party, campaign candidate in a partisan elections.

Social Media Guidelines for Civilians 

CAN:

Post, share, or link to material from a partisan political party, group or candidate, when off-duty, and not in a government building, but not to subordinates.

Express personal, non-partisan views over personal social media.

"Friend," "like" or "follow" the social media page or account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign or group when off duty.

Identify a political affiliation on a personal social media profile.

Continue to follow, be friends with, or like the official social media accounts of government officials after those officials become candidates for reelection.

CANNOT:

Suggest that others "like," "friend," or "follow" a partisan account, when on duty.

Post, share or link to material from a partisan political party, group, or candidate, when on duty.

Like, share, post, or retweet a post that solicits political contributions, including invitations to fundraising events.