Five mistakes that catch service members in election season

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Bumpus
  • 501 CSW PA
As the U.S. election cycle winds up again it's important to remember being a Service member means some special considerations might be necessary.
Here are five mistakes to watch out for in the next year:
1)    Not Voting: The Department of Defense encourages all members to exercise their right to vote, and being overseas is no excuse. The Federal Voting Assistance Program is designed to help overseas Service members cast their vote. Go to to get started.
Not Voting "Voting is one of our most powerful, fundamental rights," said William Sokolis, 501st Combat Support Wing community support coordinator. "Serving overseas does not bar us from exercising that right, unless we bar ourselves. Not casting a vote robs a person of their opportunity to be a part of the selection of their government."
2)    Online actions: Social media can be a great way to voice opinions. Just make sure it's understood what is posted is a personal opinion and not the official position of the DOD. Social Media
3)    Campaigning for a Candidate: This can be an easy mistake to make. Something as simple as sharing a website link for a candidate could be a step too far. As Service members, influencing the political views of others in an official capacity is not allowed - so no handing out pamphlets or website sharing for a candidate.
Campaigning "The bottom-line is that active duty members must refrain from engaging in activities that would constitute political activity," said Maj. Chelsea Bartoe, 501st CSW staff judge advocate. "Meaning, you may not provide direct links to partisan sites, may not suggest others 'like,' 'friend' or 'follow' a partisan account, and you cannot forward invitations to partisan events, solicit or fundraise."
4)    Banners and Displays: People like to make their thoughts known, but putting up a sign in base housing or hanging a banner on a vehicle is a no go. Keep it subtle and keep it off base. Banners and Displays
5)    Rallies: Be careful around rallies or parades. Service members may attend but not participate in the function, and certainly not in uniform. Rallies
For more information of the do's and don'ts of election season check out DOD Directive 1344.10  and AFI 51-902, or contact the legal office at DSN: (314) 268-3535 COMM: 01480-84-3535