The 2016 election year is here

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EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — I can’t remember an election season with so many televised debates and candidates. The drama, the excitement, the language; ouchies.

We are in full speed this election season, and once we’re down to two candidates, we’re going to be in maximum overdrive.

Although the presidential election is not until Nov. 1, 2016, this might be a good time to review some provisions required by the Department of Defense. As such, the department would like to remind everyone about a few requirements it expects of its workforce, particularly those in uniform.

The DOD has a longstanding policy of encouraging all of its personnel, including retirees, to carry out the obligations of citizenship. However, active-duty members should not engage in partisan political activities and should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DOD sponsorship, approval or endorsement.

On the flip side, no candidate for office is permitted to engage in campaign- or election-related activities while on DOD installations or in DOD facilities.

Any political activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating with the DOD, or contrary to its policy, are to be avoided.

All members of the Armed Forces, including active-duty, reserve and retired members, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events. This prohibition is not applicable to the provision of joint Armed Forces color guards at the opening ceremonies of the national conventions of the Republican, Democrat and other political parties formally recognized by the Federal Election Commission.

Nothing in DOD guidance is considered to prohibit free discussion about political issues or candidates for public office. However, no member of the Armed Forces or any federal civilian employee shall attempt to influence the voting or participation of any other member.

The DOD provides information so that all members of the Armed Forces, federal civilian employees and their eligible family members have the opportunity to register and vote.

To help facilitate and educate servicemembers on voting, Congress established the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Its core mission is to provide voting assistance and to ensure servicemembers, their families and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so from anywhere in the world.

 One of the best resources available to help with the absentee and voting process, regardless of a citizen’s state of residence, is the FVAP Program website located at www.fvap.gov.