Political Activity for Reservists and Federal Civilians - What you need to know:

  • Published
  • By Maj. Marissa Savells
  • 913th Airlift Group

The current election cycle continues to take center stage and you should be aware of the rules for Reservists and Federal Civilians.  Everyone is encouraged to vote and you should register to vote, if you haven’t.  The DoD encourages military members to carry out this obligation of citizenship.  To register to vote based on your state, visit: https://www.fvap.gov/ or https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote. Understand your voting options, whether absentee/mail-in, early voting or Election Day in-person voting.  Remember to follow applicable safety protocols, due to Covid-19, no matter the voting option you select.

Aside from voting, there are some restrictions you should be aware of as a military member during election season.   Reservists cannot participate in a political gathering in uniform.  Reservists on orders may not participate in a partisan presidential rally, partisan political clubs, solicit for a political group or march in a political parade.  This is to avoid any inference of endorsement.  It is worth repeating: whether you are on orders or not – military uniforms are not authorized for wear at political events.  Retirees are not authorized to wear uniforms at political events, either.

Active duty cannot seek nomination or candidacy for civil office – but you can! As a reservist not on orders, you are able to run for elected office, speak at political gatherings or speak on the radio or TV.  Just remember, you are not there as a representative of the Air Force or armed forces.  While you may advocate for a political candidate, you may not imply the DoD, Air Force, Reserve, or any government entity supports or endorses a particular party or candidate.  You may not use government email, computers, government-paid work hours, or resources to lobby or solicit votes or money for a political candidate.  To end on a positive note, you are more than welcome to vote, contribute to political campaigns, or display a political bumper sticker on your personal vehicle.

Federal civilians (to include Air Reserve Technicians off orders) must abide by the federal statute, The Hatch Act.  This means political campaign materials are not authorized in the workplace.  Federal civilians are not permitted to influence (or dissuade) subordinates to participate or contribute to partisan groups or candidates.  The Hatch Act allows running for nonpartisan public office, registering and voting, assisting in voter registration drives, attending political fundraisers, rallies, and meetings, and holding office in political clubs or parties.  This is a good site to learn more: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/ethics/hatch-act-political-activity-and-federal-employee

If you have a particular concern, please come by the legal office.