Monday, October 29, 2012

Navigating the election season

by Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs Office

10/29/2012 - Robins Air Force Base, Ga. -- Editor's Note: Adopted from an article written by Ian Carrier, 914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

During election season, Airmen should remember they are an important part of the political process even away from home.

In an effort to ensure the Department of Defense does not influence national elections, there are regulations in place for members of the Armed Forces.

Members may:

- Vote and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the military. These personal opinions should not be made at the work place, to subordinates, in a government vehicle, or while on government duty.

- Make monetary contributions to a political organization, party, or committee favoring a particular candidate or slate of candidates, subject to limitations under Title 2, United States Code, Section 441a and Title 18, United States Code, Section 607.

- Encourage others to exercise their voting rights, as long as such promotion does not constitute the use of their official authority or influence to interfere with the outcome of an election.

- Sign a petition for specific legislative action or a petition to place a candidate's name on an official election ballot, if the signing does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and identifies the member as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Armed Forces.

- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing their personal views on public issues or political candidates as long as such action is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign or solicitation of votes. If the letter identifies the member as being a part of the Armed Forces, it should clearly state that the views expressed are individual views and not those of the Air Force or DOD. Airmen should not use their military status to influence others on political activities.

- Display political bumper stickers on their private vehicle, but may not display them on government or official vehicles. Airmen should ensure that these bumper stickers do not violate other rules such as EEO, discrimination, or disparage government officials in accordance with base regulations.
The following activities are prohibited by the Joint Ethics Regulation, DOD Regulations, Air Force Instructions and federal law. Violation of these rules may result in criminal penalties or disciplinary action.

Members may not:

- Use their official authority, influence, or use government resources including e-mail, to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, encourage votes for a particular candidate or issue or ask for political contributions from others.

- Participate in any radio, television or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate, or attend partisan political events as an official representative of the Armed Forces.

- Solicit or engage in fundraising in federal offices, facilities or military reservations for a partisan political party, cause, or candidate.

- Participate in any organized effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls, if the effort is organized or associated with a partisan political party, cause or candidate.

- Under Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, military officers may not publicly disrespect or undermine certain elected officials, federal secretaries or congress.

- Partisan political activities are actions that show support for a particular political party or candidate. For example, an Airman may not participate in a rally supporting a candidate, work for a candidate's election committee, run for elected office, appear in a political advertisement or otherwise officially support a candidate while in uniform or as a representative of the Armed Forces.

For more information, members should contact their unit-voting representative or their servicing legal office.

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