Do the right thing this election season

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- This is an election year, and military and federal civilians are allowed to participate in the political process. However, there are guidelines as far as how to participate on and off duty. Below are some rules to follow to ensure you stay within applicable guidance.

Rules for civilians
Federal employees are governed by the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activities that are directed toward the success or failure of a partisan candidate, political party or partisan political group.  However, application of the Hatch Act and its regulations varies depending on an employee’s position or office.  

Rules for Military
Uniformed personnel must follow DoD Directive 1344.10 and AFI 51-902. These apply to active duty personnel as well as Reserve and National Guard members on active duty orders.  Additionally, under certain circumstances, the regulations expand their coverage to service members who are not on active duty, including retirees.  

You MAY:
Vote
Promote and generally encourage others to vote  
Display political bumper sticker on POV 
Display campaign signs in yard of residence (except on base)
Donate to a campaign
Express personal opinions on candidates or issues, but not as a representative of the Air Force
Attend partisan and nonpartisan activities when not in uniform
Sign nominating or legislative action petitions
Write letters to the editor/post opinions on blogs (requires disclaimer if member is identifiable as service member)
Donate to political organizations, parties or committees favoring a particular candidate

You MAY NOT:
Participate in partisan political fundraisers, rallies, conventions, or debates (participation includes more than just mere attendance as a spectator)
Use official authority or influence to affect outcome of an election
Solicit or coerce votes from, or otherwise influence, a subordinate
Use official title in connection with partisan political activities
Use government resources (equipment, time, email, subordinate’s time, etc.) to engage in partisan political activities
Engage in partisan political activity in a federal workplace, including on one’s personal device
Speak before a partisan political gathering
March or ride in a partisan political parade
Be a candidate for, or hold, a civil office except as authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force

Rules for Social Media
There is no guidance in DoDD 1344.10 to address social media. However, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (Hatch Act) has guidance that will apply to military personnel until the regulation is updated. 

Federal employees may express personal views on public issues or political candidates and may “friend,” “like,” or “follow” the social media page of a partisan group or candidate. However, if the site identifies the individual as an employee of the Department of Defense, these actions may require a disclaimer stating the views are of the individual and not the DoD.

Social media use is subject to the following limitations:

May NOT engage in partisan political activities on duty, in workplace, or using government resources
May NOT refer to official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time
May NOT fundraise by suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions, even “shares” or “retweets” of a contribution solicitation
May NOT send messages or tweets solely to subordinates that show support for a partisan group or candidate
May NOT use an official Facebook or Twitter account to engage in political activity
May NOT use an alias account to avoid these limitations