Department of Defense “Dos and Don’ts” for the 2008 Election Year

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Daphne M. LaSalle
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Assistant Staff Judge Advocate
Who's a contender in the White House race of 2008? Even though the fields are narrowing, it could still be anybody's race. As engaged citizens in our democratic society, active-duty military members and civilian employees are encouraged to fulfill their political obligations of voting. However, with the heightened publicity of the political arena adding pressure to participate, Department of Defense employees should familiarize themselves with the DoD Directives regarding permissible and prohibited political activities.

As an active-duty service member you are encouraged to vote. A member of active duty may register, vote, and express personal opinions regarding political candidates and issues. Members may join political clubs; attend political/partisan meetings and/or rallies; and even contribute financial support to particular political organizations or candidates. Members may also display political bumper stickers on their personal vehicles and write letters to newspaper editors expressing personal views on public issues. Members may not at any time act as a representative of the armed forces while exercising their personal rights to engage in such political activities.

Active-duty military members are prohibited from participation in partisan events as an official representative of the armed forces, soliciting contributions for political objectives from other armed forces members, and speaking at partisan political campaigns or conventions.

Like active-duty military members, civilian employees of the Department of Defense also have restrictions that limit their participation in political activities. The Hatch Act prohibits civilian employees from becoming a candidate in a political election in which any candidate represents a political party, raising money for partisan political campaigns, using their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect election results, using their title when participating in political activities, and soliciting campaign contributions via telephone -- to name a few.

A comprehensive list of "Dos and Don'ts" for active-duty personnel may be viewed at "Dos and Don'ts" for civilian employees may be viewed at Any additional questions may be directed to your base legal office.