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Posters encouraging Marines to engage the political systems they defend hang in various locations throughout Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. With their military lifestyles and professional requirements, Marines often find politics and profession to be a balancing act. While maximum participation in the electoral process is encouraged throughout the Marine Corps, the guidelines laid out in Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 are readily available to Marines walking the politics-profession tightrope as they perform their civic and military duties.

Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson

Marines, Sailors voices heard during 2016 elections

11 Feb 2016 | Sgt. Grace L. Waladkewics 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

2016 is a presidential election year and this November, men and women across the United States will flood the polls to cast their vote for the candidates they would like to see elected.

Election Day 2016 will be held on Nov. 8 and voters will have the opportunity to elect the President of the United States, Vice President, 435 voting member seats in the House of Representatives, 34 seats in the Senate, 12 state governorships, two territorial governorships and numerous state elections.

“… Marines are deployed throughout the world, often in harm’s way, protecting our Nation and supporting the cause of freedom and democracy. In many places, the struggle centers on one very basic but powerful principle of democracy – the right to vote,” said Gordon R. England, former Secretary of the Navy.

For service members, exercising their right to vote in the election means they are going to have a direct influence on who their next commander-in-chief of the armed forces will be. It is the right of every American citizen to make an informed decision on who to vote for and, once their decision has been made, many voters desire to show support to their candidate of choice and make their opinion known. As members of the armed forced, it is crucial to know and abide by the Department of Defense’s guidelines and policies surrounding political campaigns and elections.

DoD guidance on political campaigns and activity, as outlined in Marine Administrative Message 603/15, states that active duty Marines and Sailors may register to vote and may vote in any U.S. election and are encouraged to fulfill their civil liberty to do so.

According to the MARADMIN, service members may express a personal opinion on political candidates or issues, join a partisan or nonpartisan political club and attend meetings, write letters to editors in newspapers expressing only their personal views on issues and candidates, but are required to explicitly state that the views, opinions and support are solely their own and do not represent the armed forces as a whole.

Service members are approved to make monetary donations to a political organization, display partisan political bumper stickers on personally owned vehicles or attend fundraising activities so long as they are not in uniform while participating and they are not doing so as a representative of the armed forces at any point in time, according to the MARADMIN.

Service members are not authorized to participate in partisan political fundraising including speaking at political gatherings and performing clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee or candidate during a campaign, on Election Day or following the election. Additionally, soliciting or otherwise engaging in fundraising activities in federal offices or facilities or on military installations for any political cause or candidate, marching or riding in a political parade or displaying large political banners or posters is strictly prohibited.

For more information on what service members may and may not do during the election year, view MARADMIN 603/15 at

Uniformed service members and some family members are eligible to cast an absentee vote when living outside of their voting residence. To cast this vote, service members can request an absentee ballot with the Federal Post Card Application which can be obtained through the installation voting assistance officer or at

Marines and Sailors are encouraged to participate in the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Through the program, service members who are a U.S. citizen, a resident of the state in which they are registering to vote; are 18 years or older before Nov. 8, 2016; and who are registered no later than 20 days prior to the primaries and elections can cast their vote. For information regarding the Voting Assistance Program, service members should contact their Voting Assistance Office.

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing