Political participation: Do’s and Don’ts

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Stephanie Heibertshausen
  • 180FW/JA
Ohio's Presidential Primary Election is Tuesday, March 6, 2012. The military wants you to participate in our democratic process - within limits. You are encouraged to vote (and may do so in uniform during the duty day) and promote and encourage other people to vote. Just as any other private citizen, you may express your personal opinions about political candidates and issues, join partisan or nonpartisan political clubs, attend meetings and sign petitions. You are also permitted to make personal donations to a candidate's campaign, political organizations or parties. Displaying political bumper stickers on your personal vehicle is also permitted.

With the exception of voting, however, your participation in these activities must be limited to times when you are not in uniform. If you are acting in an official capacity, you may not make public political speeches, serve in any official military capacity in partisan groups, participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions, or engage in fundraising activities. Further, any written political editorials must clearly state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not the Department of Defense.

Do all of your Facebook friends know your favorite candidate? Be careful when discussing politics through social media. You may maintain a personal blog, but do not ask your readers to donate funds or use your official duty title or position to support a candidate. Further, Airmen may not post a picture of themselves in uniform on a Facebook page that endorses a political candidate or on a partisan political page.

The bottom line: Your views are yours - personally. Do not express those views in such a way that others may perceive as being views of the military or views being expressed in your official military capacity. Any questions? Contact the Legal Office for Assistance.
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