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During election season, remember, Marines first

By Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | January 28, 2016

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This November, voters across America will head for the polls to decide the next president of the United States of America. For those in the military, they will be electing a new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.

It is important for every American to make an educated decision about who to vote for to lead the country. Service members have a special interest in this decision as it has a direct impact on their lives. Whoever is elected in November will have a substantial amount of influence over the military.

Now that the candidates are in the full swing of campaigning, many service members may feel the need to show their support and make their opinion heard. It is important to remember our role as U.S. service members. [GCA1] 

The Department of Defense has a longstanding, well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception that the DoD endorses any particular candidate or cause. The DoD encourages service members to fulfill the civic obligation to vote, but members of the Armed Forces on active duty should not engage in partisan political activities.

According to MARADMIN 603/15, Marines and other members of the Armed Forces are subject more restrictive rules than federal civilian employees. Active duty Marines and sailors are allowed to vote and express personal opinions about politics but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.

Service members are authorized to make monetary donations to political campaigns and attend events like parades and rallies as long as they are not in uniform, according the MARADMIN. 

The most important thing for Marines and sailors to remember when becoming active in politics is that they are not allowed to speak for the entire DoD. When writing a social media post or even conducting an interview with a news organization, service members must explicitly state that their views are not representative of the military as a whole.

Marines and sailors are encouraged to register and vote in all elections However; many do not know the steps involved or how to prepare in advance for voting.

Keep in mind these useful tips as you begin the voting process:

  • To be eligible to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the state in which you are registering and 18 years old on or before Election Day.
  • Registration must be completed 20 days before all primaries and elections.
  • You are eligible for absentee voting if you are absent from your registered county on Election Day, are ill or physically disabled, or are registered in a county, but are a member of the Armed Forces or a spouse or child of a service member.
  • Your voting assistance officer can assist you with registering, obtaining an absentee ballot and explaining the voting, registration and absentee ballot regulations which vary from state to state.

To obtain all necessary voting information, Marines and their families should contact their unit’s voting assistance officer or visit the Manpower and Reserve Affairs’ voting page on Marines.mil for more information.

Regardless of whether you are a service member, a spouse, a veteran, or simply a supporter, do your part to ensure the brightest future for America by casting your vote this Election Day.


 [GCA1]Be careful with this language. Our largest readership is civilians.


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