While Americans in the private sector may not have an issue getting involved with Democrats Abroad, for those employed by the US government, the details can be a bit less clear. This is, at least in part, due to the Hatch Act.
The Bottom Line Up Front: There are plenty of political activities that federal employees can still take part in, as long as they do not take their politics to the office. Specific questions about political activities can be directed to the agency’s legal counsel or the U.S. Office Of Special Counsel.
The Hatch Act, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as those of other government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.
What the Hatch Act means for Civilian Federal Employees
Federal employees may:
- Register and vote as they choose
- Assist in voter registration drives
- Express opinions about candidates and issues
- Participate in campaigns where none of the candidates represent a political party
- Contribute money to political organizations or attend political fundraising functions
- Attend political rallies and meetings
- Join political clubs or parties
- Sign nominating petitions
- Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances
Federal employees may not:
- Be candidates for public office in partisan elections
- Campaign for or against a candidate or slate of candidates in partisan elections
- Make campaign speeches
- Collect contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions
- Distribute campaign material in partisan elections
- Organize or manage political rallies or meetings
- Hold office in political clubs or parties
- Circulate nominating petitions
- Work to register voters for one party only (Registering voters via VoteFromAbroad.org would *not* be prohibited as it is a non-partisan tool that helps all Americans register to vote from abroad, regardless of party).
- Wear political buttons, t-shirts or similar items at work
U.S. Office Of Special Counsel created this short video on the basics of the Hatch Act:
As well as a second video from 2016 with extensive details, further information and examples:
What the Hatch Act means for Government Contractors
These restrictions apply only to DoD personnel and do not apply to contractor employees. Therefore, there is no Federal prohibition on contractor employees engaging in political activity, such as displaying signs or actively campaigning in the Government workplace. However, there are probably regulations in the specific agency or similar language in an employment contract that mirrors the Hatch Act. It is probably best to adhere to the rules of Federal employees, though specific questions about political activity can be directed to the agency’s or employer’s legal counsel.
What the Hatch Act means for Military Service Members
The Hatch Act does not apply to actively serving uniformed members of the U.S. Armed Forces, although it does apply to Department of Defense civil servants, as well as Department of Homeland Security civil servants in direct support of the United States Coast Guard. Uniformed personnel are subject to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 (DoDD 1344.10), Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, and the spirit and intent of that directive is effectively the same as that of the Hatch Act for Federal civil servants. By agreement between the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, DoDD 1344.10 also applies to uniformed personnel of the Coast Guard at all times, whether it is operating as a service in the Department of Homeland Security or as part of the Navy under the Department of Defense. Those with questions about their political activities can ask their agency legal counsel or the U.S. Office Of Special Counsel, who can help ensure laws and regulations are not violated.
Democrats Abroad strongly supports common sense gun legislation. We deplore Congress' unwillingness to enact legislation that would protect the people of America.
Julia Bryan, International Chair of Democrats Abroad, states: "Sensible gun legislation is the norm in nearly all other developed countries, where leaders are not beholden to organizations like the NRA to fund their next political campaign. In Japan, death by firearm is as uncommon as death by lightning strike. In the United States, gun fire is as likely to kill our friends and family as a car accident. To accept this reality as the inevitable fallout of protecting the second amendment is to deny the rights our country was founded on - that all people are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable rights: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
For more information about where Democrats Abroad stands on gun control, we have excerpted the platform plank on Gun Violence from our 2016 Platform below. We will be marching in events across our country committees in March - for more information about an event near you, please visit your local committee's page.Read more
Democrats Abroad invites all members to join with us as we March for Our Lives. On March 24th we will rise in solidarity with US marches, and rally in cities and towns around the world. We will speak out for gun control and demand that Congress protect the youth of America, and enact gun legislation to end violence and mass shootings in our schools today.
Contact your country committee for updates on events near you. For anyone not near an organized event, we will also be hosting an online vigil. More information coming soon.
Most people may see November as the month for elections, but we see voting as a 12-month effort. And with primary elections right around the corner (kicking off March 6 in Texas!), it’s time to be sure you’re ready to go. Below are a few FAQs that may be helpful for those who haven’t yet requested their ballots for 2018.Read more
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” started by the noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.Read more
Marking one year after Trump’s inauguration, thousands of Democrats Abroad members joined citizen-activist movements around the world and marched for political and social change. Their core mission was to protest of the current administration’s efforts to roll back reasonable policies, from health care to the environment, and to show support for Democrats’ fight for equality and policies that benefit all Americans.Read more
International Chair Julia Bryan issued the following statement regarding Donald Trump’s remarks on Jan 14:
”Democrats Abroad decries the racists remarks of Donald Trump, and joins with the rest of the Democratic party to demand that he apologize to the countries that he insulted in his recent comments regarding immigration.
We call on our Republican colleagues to join us in denouncing the President’s hateful remarks. Fighting against racism and bigotry should transcend party lines."