Guidance on Political Activity
As elections approach, questions often arise about the degree and the extent to which active-duty and Reserve military can publicly voice their views and participate in the political process.
So that Marines and Sailors are aware of their rights and obligations as citizens, MARADMINs and guidance provide increased understanding about current statutes, regulations and policies that govern official involvement or the appearance of official involvement in partisan political activities.
The following are the most currently available:
Under DOD Directive 1344.10,
Marines On Active Duty May Not:
1) Participate in partisan political fundraising activities, rallies, conventions, management of campaigns to include basic clerical duties, or debates.
2) Serve in any official capacity with, or be listed as a sponsor of, a partisan political club.
3) Speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
4) Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
5) Display a political sign (larger than a bumper sticker) in a privately owned vehicle.
6) Use official authority to influence or interfere with an election.
Marines On Active Duty May:
1) Register to vote.
2) Express personal political opinions in a personal capacity, but not as a representative of the USMC.
3) Encourage others to vote.
4) Sign a petition for a specific legislative action as a private citizen only.
5) Write a letter to the editor, but cannot solicit votes or participate in an organized letter-writing campaign, and must include a disclaimer.
6) Join a political club and attend its meetings when not in uniform, but as a non-participating spectator only.
7) Donate money to political organization, party, or committee.
8) Display normal size political bumper sticker on a personally owned vehicle.
9) Attend political events and fundraising activities as a spectator when not in uniform.
Reserve Marines Not On Active Duty Shall Not:
1) Participate in a campaign event while in uniform.
2) Engage in public speeches or provide written commentary while acting in their official Department of Defense capacity.
3) Distribute partisan political campaign literature while in uniform, while in an official capacity, or while on a military installation.
Civilian Marines May Not:
1) Use official authority or influence to interfere with an election. This includes using an official title for political purposes, or coercing subordinates to volunteer or contribute to a campaign.
2) Solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency.
3) Solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations).
4) Be candidates for public office in partisan elections. An election becomes partisan when a candidate receives the endorsement of a political party, uses political party resources, or announces candidacy on behalf of a political party.
5) Running in partisan elections is permitted for candidates in certain areas with high concentrations of federal employees, such the Virginia and Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. 5 USC 7325.
6) Engage in political activity while on duty, in a government office, wearing an official uniform, or using a government vehicle.
7) Wear partisan political buttons on duty.
Civilian Marines May:
1) Be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections.
2) Register and vote as they choose.
3) Assist in voter registration drives.
4) Express opinions about candidates and issues.
5) Contribute money to political organizations.
6) Attend political fundraising functions.
7) Attend and be active at political rallies and meetings.
8) Join and be an active member of a political party or club.
9) Sign nominating petitions.
10) Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, and municipal ordinances.
11) Campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections.
12) Make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections.
13) Distribute campaign literature in partisan elections.
14) Hold office in political clubs or parties.
All Marines, whether active duty, Reserve, or civilian, are encouraged to participate in the political process. At the same time, Marines must be aware of the rules and regulations related to political activity that govern the conduct of all service members.