The Postal Service is reminding employees that they can participate in politics — but only while they are off duty and not wearing a uniform.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity while on duty, while wearing a federal uniform or identification badge, while on federal property or while inside a federal vehicle.
The act’s goals are to ensure 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 promoted based on merit, not political affiliation.
While many forms of political expression are prohibited by the act, much is permissible. This includes:
• Registering to vote and voting in an election;
• Participating in voter registration efforts;
• Volunteering to assist with a political campaign, including signing nominating petitions, distributing campaign literature, endorsing or supporting a candidate, wearing campaign apparel and canvassing for votes;
• Making a campaign speech at a political rally, caucus, convention or meeting;
• Donating money to a political candidate or group, as long as it is not done on postal equipment;
• Campaigning for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, changes in municipal ordinances or pending legislation;
• Working at the polls on election day;
• Holding office within a political party, such as a delegate to a party convention; and
• Running in an election in which no candidate belongs to a political party.
If an employee plans to vote while in uniform — during lunch, for example — prior permission is required from his or her postmaster.
If you have questions about the Hatch Act or engaging in any political activity as a government employee, contact the Ethics Office by calling 202-268-6346 or emailing Ethics.Help@usps.gov.