Election Day is Quickly Approaching: A Hatch Act Reminder

Last edited 10/17/2022
Person in jeans and grey sneakers standing on sidewalk that has been painted with the word "Vote"

With Election Day quickly approaching, we thought now would be a great time to remind everyone about the Hatch Act’s restrictions on political activity for Federal employees.

The Hatch Act defines political activity as any activity directed toward the success or failure of any political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. The Hatch Act prohibits you from engaging in these activities while on duty, in a Federal building, wearing a Department of Interior uniform or insignia, or in a Federal vehicle unless you are a Presidentially Appointed Senate-confirmed (PAS) employee.

The Hatch Act also contains certain 24/7 prohibitions that apply to you even while you are off duty and outside of a Federal building or vehicle:

  • You may not your official title or authority for the purpose of affecting the result of an election;
  • You may not solicit, accept or receive political contributions from any person;
  • You may not be a candidate for public office in a partisan election; and
  • You may not solicit or discourage the political activity of any individual with business before the Department of the Interior.

Some employees, such as Career Senior Executive Service employees, Administrative Law Judges, Administrative Appeals Judges, and Contract Appeals Judges are considered “further restricted” under the Hatch Act. In addition to the above prohibitions, further restricted employees are also prohibited from taking an active part in partisan political management or campaigning.

The Hatch Act also restricts the personal use of social media by Federal employees in the following ways:

  • While on duty or in a Federal building, the Hatch Act prohibits you from posting or sharing a message about a partisan political candidate, party or group, tweeting or retweeting content supporting or opposing a partisan political candidate, party or group, or inviting others to a campaign rally or other partisan political event.
  • Even when off duty and off premises, you are prohibited from tweeting, liking, or otherwise sharing a message that asks others to donate to a partisan political candidate, party or group, sharing an invitation to a campaign or political party fundraiser, or using your official title or position to endorse a partisan political candidate, party or group.

If you have any questions concerning this guidance or any other ethics topic, please reach out to an ethics counselor. Contact information for the DOI’s Departmental Ethics Office and bureau ethics counselors is available at https://www.doi.gov/ethics/bureau-office-contacts.

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