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Election Time-Election Related Activitiy

If you wish to be active in speaking about or engaging in election politics, and you are a member of active, Reserve, or Guard, forces, you should do so basic reading about what is allowed, prohibited, and at times discouraged. An experienced military defense lawyer can help.

It is 2015, next year will be another presidential election year. The aspirants are starting to talk and promote themselves, and will soon be seeking your support. That means there are potential problems for military personnel (active, Guard, Reserve, or retired) who want to be involved in the political process. Here are links to an example of how the military member can get in trouble over politics.

Here are some older reminders

  • Stars & Stripes -- politicking in uniform not allowed. Something similar might happen again. Think about it first.
  • Bryant Jordan on Military.com regarding “politicking" of a uniformed Reserve Soldier.

Nothing in the rules prohibits or restricts a military member:

  • registering to vote
  • voting
  • donating to politicians or political parties

These are personal choices and cannot be punished. If fact, does not the military leadership encourage people to exercise their right to vote.

The rules do restrict or limit how military personnel can advocate for a political party, candidate, or elected official.

The greatest restriction is that Active-duty servicemembers are strictly prohibited from campaigning for political office or actively taking part in a political campaign — even behind the scenes. The rules are different for Reserves and Guard personnel not on orders.

Here is a brief explanation of rules from the Department of Defense.

The basic rules are here:

  • DoD Directive 1344.10, Subj: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces.
  • Air Force Instruction 51-902., Subj: Political Activities by Members of the US Air Force.
  • Army AR 600-200., Subj: Army Command Policy, Para. 5-3, Political Activity, and Appendix B.
  • Coast Guard
  • Navy. SECNAVINST 5720.44, Subj: Public Affairs Policy and Navy Regulations.
  • Marine Corps Order 5370.7B., Subj: Political Activities.

There are various criminal statutes that also affect what, when, where, and how.

  • 2 U.S.C. § 441a. Federal election campaigns: limitation on contributions and expenditures.
  • 10 U.S.C. § 973: duties of officers on active duty; performance of civil functions restricted.
  • 18 U.S.C. Chapter 29, Elections and Political Activities; 18 U.S.C. § 1913.
  • DoD 5500.7-R, Joint Ethics Regulation, Chapters 2, 3, 5 & 6.
  • Article 88, UCMJ.

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

  • Article 92, UCMJ. Violations of the various regulations and laws will likely be prosecuted under this article as an orders violation.
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