Do's, Don'ts of politics in the Corps

1 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Austin Goacher

Recently, political campaigns, rallies and advertisements have been among the latest headlines.

While Marines can actively participate in portions of the campaign process, the Department of Defense has set several guidelines on what activities are permissible.

According to Marine Administrative Message 511/08, such activities include registering to vote and assisting in voter-registration drives.

“This is your one chance to have a hand in electing the president,” said Capt. Roger Greenwood, the voting assistance officer for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Other things service members can do to support a specific candidate include making financial contributions to a political party or candidate and placing a bumper sticker on their privately owned vehicle, according to the message.

Out of uniform, service members may also attend partisan-political rallies in a non-official status.  However they can never participate in a political activity on the job, in a government vehicle or in uniform. 

For example, service members are not authorized to distribute political literature at work. 

“If you’re out encouraging people to vote and helping them register to vote, you can’t try to tell them who to vote for,” said Greenwood.

Other prohibited political activities for service members include:

•  soliciting or receiving contributions, distributing political materials over government email

•  speaking at rallies, participating in a parade and working on a committee or a candidate’s campaign

•  placing large campaign sign on their vehicles and posting partisan signs, posters, or banners in a visible area of any residence on a military installation.

For more information on allowed political activities contact the Staff Judge Advocate’s office at 858-577-4106.