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Political season: What service members need to know

Voter Graphic (U.S Air Force graphic by Airman !st Class Christina Carter)

Voter Graphic (U.S Air Force graphic by Airman !st Class Christina Carter)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

The November 2020 U.S. Presidential election is fast approaching.

Airmen are encouraged to vote and remain engaged throughout the political process.

 “As U.S. service men and women, we need to demonstrate to the American people the importance of civic duty,” said 2nd Lt. Troy Clevenger, a 509th Security Forces Squadron section commander. “We lead the way and voting is the best way to protect the ideals of the United States.”

The Whiteman AFB Voting Assistance Office is located in the Airmen & Family Readiness Center and is available for Airmen who need help figuring out how to register to vote or request an absentee ballot from their home state.

“Airmen can always go to their Voting Assistance Office and fill out an absentee ballot,” Clevenger said. “It is important to recognize that where you are registered to vote is not necessarily your home of record.”

While many states offer electronic voter registration, others may require voters to mail their applications, Clevenger added, requiring timely action of absentee voters.

Airmen can also find more information and helpful links about absentee ballots by visiting Team Whiteman’s official website, https://www.whiteman.af.mil/About/Voting/.

Uniformed service members should also be mindful of limitations to their political involvement and public support for political campaigns, Clevenger said. Airmen are encouraged to stay aware of the issues and be knowledgeable in the country’s political activities but are limited in their event participation in uniform, lobbying activities or campaigns on social media.

“There are laws and regulations that prohibit us from criticizing the chain of command, the president, Congress [and other offices and agencies of the U.S. Government],” he continued. “It’s important that we have that separation. We serve whomever the American people choose regardless of our personal opinion.”

According to the DoD Directive 1344.10, while on social media military members may:

  • Express personal views on political candidates and issues, but a disclaimer may be required.
  • “Follow,” “friend” or “like” a political party or candidate running for partisan office.

Military members may not:

  • Post links to, “share” or “re-tweet” comments or tweets from the Facebook page or Twitter account of a political party or candidate running for partisan office.
  • Engage in social media activities in the work place, on duty or using government resources.

Airmen should also avoid commenting, posting, or linking to material that violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or service regulations.

When it comes to other political activities, DoD Directive 1344.10 allows military members to:

  • Encourage others to vote.
  • Express their personal opinions on partisan political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the military.
  • When not in uniform, attend partisan political events, as a spectator.
  • Contribute personal money to a partisan political campaign or organization.
  • Have a partisan political bumper sticker on personal vehicle.
  • Participate in the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Military members may not:

  • Engage in campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event.
  • Avoid implying or appearing to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or issue.
  • Serve as an officer of a political club, or speak before a political gathering.
  • Interfere with an election or affect the outcome of an election.
  • Solicit votes for a particular candidate or cause.
  • Participate in any media program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
  • March or ride in a partisan political parade.
  • Display a large partisan political sign, banner, or poster on a private vehicle.
  • Display a political sign, poster, banner, or similar device visible to the public at one’s residence on a military installation.
  • Sell tickets for or otherwise actively promote partisan political dinners and similar fundraising events.

For more information, on what military members should and should not do when it comes political activities visit https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/134410p.pdf