Election time: So what exactly can military members do?
Spc. Andrea Boyd holds up her absentee ballot. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Lynette Hoke)
Posted 9/14/2012 Updated 9/14/2012
by Air Force staff sergeants Robert Barnett and Zachary Wolf
JBER Public Affairs
9/14/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- As the clock ticks down to election day, some military members may have questions to what they can or cannot do in the arena of political activities.
The things military members can and cannot do are outlined in Army Regulation 600-20 and Air Force Instruction 52-902.
One thing everyone has a right to do is vote.
"Voting provides a very unique opportunity for American's voices to be heard," said Air Force Capt. Quiana McCarthy, 673d Air Base Wing Judge Advocate chief of preventative law.
Examples of what active-duty members can do are:
"If troops have a question, that's why we (at the legal office) are here," said Russ Leavitt, 673d Air Base Wing Judge Advocate chief of legal assistance.
- Encourage others to vote
- Join a political club, attend meetings, but not in uniform
- Attend political fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions, not in uniform, when no inference or appearance of official sponsorship can be drawn
- Serve as an election official (limitations)
- Sign a petition, if signing does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and done as a private citizen
- Write a letter to the editor expressing personal views concerning public issues or political candidates, if it is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign or a solicitation of votes for/against a political party or partisan political cause/candidate
- Write a personal letter, not for publication, expressing preference for a specific political candidate/cause
- Make monetary contributions to a political organization favoring a particular candidate
- Display a political bumper sticker on a private vehicle
- Wear a political button/t-shirt when not in uniform or performing military duties
- Examples of what active-duty members cannot do:
- Participate in partisan political fundraising activities, rallies, or conventions. Participation includes more than mere attendance as a spectator
- Solicit votes for a particular candidate/issue
- Serve in an official capacity/sponsor political club
- Speak in front of a partisan political gathering
- Solicit funds for partisan political fund-raising activity
- March or ride in partisan political parade
- Display large political sign or banner on car/military residence (exception for bumper sticker)
- Sell tickets for partisan political dinners, fundraising events
- Participate in uniform in marches, rallies, public demonstration
For situations not covered by the joint regulations, the member should contact their unit voting representative or their servicing legal office.