The following guidance is based on DOD Directive 1344.10 Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty.
Permissible activities. A member on active duty MAY engage in the following types of political activity:
1.May register, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the armed forces.
2. May promote and encourage other military personnel to exercise their rights, provided such promotion does not constitute an attempt to influence or interfere with the outcome of an election.
3. May join a political club and attend its meetings when not in uniform (but see 6., 7., and 12. below).
4. May serve as a nonpartisan election official out of uniform with the approval of the Secretary of the Navy.
5. May sign a petition for specific legislative action, provided the signing thereof does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and is taken as a private citizen.
6. May write a nonpartisan letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing the member's personal views concerning public issues (in private capacity).
7. May write a personal letter, not for publication, expressing preference for a specific political candidate or cause.
8. May make monetary contributions to a political party or committee (subject to some limitations below).
9. May display a political sticker on his / her private automobile.
Prohibited activities. A member on active duty may NOT engage in the following types of political activity:
1. May not use official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election, affecting the outcome thereof, soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue, or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others.
2. May not campaigning as nonpartisan (as well as partisan) candidate or nominee.
3. May not participate in a partisan campaign or make public speeches in the cause thereof.
4. May not make, solicit, or receive a campaign contribution for another member of the armed forces or for a civilian officer or employee of the United States promoting a political cause.
5. May not allow or cause to be published political articles signed or authored by the member for partisan purposes.
6. May not serve in any official capacity or be listed as a sponsor of a partisan political club.
7. May not peak before a partisan political gathering of any kind to promote a partisan political party or candidate.
8. May not participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate of a partisan political party or candidate.
9. May not conduct a partisan political opinion survey or distribute partisan political literature.
10. May not perform clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee during a campaign or an election day.
11. May not solicit or otherwise engage in fund-raising activities in Federal offices or facilities for a partisan political cause or candidate.
12. May not march or ride in a partisan political parade.
13. May not display a large political sign on top of his / her private automobile, as distinguished from a political sticker.
14. May not display partisan political signage on government owned or contracted housing (unless other housing standards do not forbid, “Get out and Vote” is allowed, “Vote for Candidate X” is not).
15. May not participate in any organized effort to provide voters with transportation to the polls.
16. May not sell tickets for or otherwise actively promote political dinners.
17. May not be a partisan candidate for civil office during initial active-duty tours or tours extended in exchange for schools.
18. May not for a Regular officer on active duty, or retired Regular officer or Reserve officer on active duty for over 180 days, hold or exercise the functions of any civil office in any Federal, state, or local civil office-unless assigned in a military status or otherwise authorized by law [10 U.S.C.A. § 973(b)].
19. May not hold U.S. Government elective office, Executive schedule position, or position requiring Presidential appointment with the advice and consent of Congress.
20. May not participate (even anonymously) in any survey or similar poll that includes any reference to military status.
The bottom line is that a military member’s current active duty status (just like the military as a whole) cannot be used for political ends. “The Military” does not and may not endorse partisan politics. Military members may not participate in activity that would rationally lead to such an impression.
For more information please contact your local ethics counselor