Cover Story

The Election Season and the Hatch Act

Answer: A. Running for office in a nonpartisan campaign is permitted under the Hatch Act.

During this election season, Postal Service™ employ­ees should be mindful of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is a federal law that restricts the political activity of federal employees, including Postal Service employees.

Activities Prohibited by the Hatch Act

Under the Hatch Act, postal employees may not engage in political activity while on duty; while wearing a uniform, badge, insignia, or other similar item that identifies the Postal Service; while in a government building; or while in a government vehicle or a privately owned vehicle that is being used in the discharge of official duties. Political activ­ity is any act directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or par­tisan political group.

As such, postal employees may not wear shirts, hats, buttons, or any other items that display the name or like­ness of any current political candidate or political party while at work or on the clock. In addition, with a few limited exceptions, postal employees may not display photo­graphs of current candidates at their workstations, in their cubicles, and in their offices. Postal employees may not distribute campaign literature on postal property or while otherwise on duty or in a uniform.

Also, postal employees may not use postal equipment (such as their computer or telephone) to make contribu­tions to political parties or campaigns. In fact, postal employees may not make political contributions while on duty, even if they use their own personal cell phones or other devices. Postal employees may not use their postal email accounts to send political messages. In addition, postal employees may not use their postal computers to send political messages from their personal email accounts. Postal employees who receive a political email from a third party at their postal email accounts may for­ward that email to their personal email accounts. Once they are off-duty, not on postal property, and not using a postal computer, employees may open the forwarded email.

The Hatch Act also imposes some restrictions on the political activity postal employees may engage in while off duty. Postal employees may not solicit for political cam­paigns, political parties, or partisan political groups at any time. This means that postal employees may not host polit­ical fundraisers, nor may they invite anyone to a political fundraiser. In addition, postal employees may not invite their subordinate employees to any political event. Finally, postal employees may not run for public office in a partisan election.

Activities Permitted by the Hatch Act

Postal employees may engage in the following political activities while off-duty and off postal property:

n Registering to vote and voting in political elections.

n Endorsing candidates in their personal capacities.

n Participating in voter registration drives.

n Distributing campaign literature.

n Canvassing votes.

n Attending and participating in political rallies and meetings.

n Contributing money to political organizations or

n Speaking at or attending political fundraisers.

Postal employees also may express their opinions about candidates and issues; campaign for or against referen­dum questions, constitutional amendments, and municipal ordinances; and join and hold office in political parties or political clubs. In addition, postal employees may be can­didates for public office in nonpartisan elections (which means no candidate in the election is representing the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or Green parties).

To learn more about the Hatch Act, see Employees also can contact their local Field Law Office or the Ethics Office at Head­quarters, call the Ethics Helpline at 202-268-6346, or send an email to for more information.