By Alice Woldt and Elizabeth Walter
It’s an exciting time in the Democratic and Republican Parties right now. Both parties are choosing delegates to vote for their presidential nominee. Both parties are also debating issues and constructing their platforms. Initiative 735, calling on Congress to pass an amendment to get big money out of elections and limit the influence of special interests will be on the ballot with the presidential nominees in November. You can help I-735’s chances of winning by being involved now. Attend a political party’s caucuses, county and state conventions. Submit a resolution committing support for I-735 and for follow up after the fall election.
Democratic Precinct caucuses are local meetings between you and your neighbors. They are held with other precincts at public locations such as schools. You will have a chance to discuss and vote for the Democratic presidential nominee and consider issues of concern beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 26, 2016 Learn more about the caucuses and find your precinct caucus location HERE.
How it works: When you arrive at your caucus site you will “register” by filling out a document (or better yet, fill it out in advance and bring it with you). Download and bring copies of this resolution with you. Because the primary purpose of the precinct caucus in a presidential year is to elect delegates to the next level (legislative district caucus and county convention), the caucus chair may or may not choose to consider the resolution. Give it to your precinct caucus convener when you gather in your precinct so it is included in the packet of information that gets turned in at the end of the meeting whether or not it gets considered.
Once registration is concluded, the initial preferences are tallied. Attendees will then gather with their neighbors and will have the opportunity to make brief statements as to why they support their preference. When everyone has had a chance to speak, attendees will be able to change their preference. Again a tally is made and candidate preferences recorded. The tally numbers are then plugged into a mathematical formula that determines how many delegates will be assigned to each candidate from that precinct. Delegates are elected from those attending the caucus or who have submitted a surrogate form (see below) and a letter requesting to be considered.
After the delegates are selected, resolutions for the legislative district caucus, county or state convention may be considered for approval by the attendees. Can’t make it? You may be able to designate someone to attend on your behalf if you can’t attend for one of four reasons: 1) religious observance; 2)military service; 3)disability; or 4) work schedule. Then, and only then, can you designate a friend or family member to represent you at the caucus. See details, download and complete a surrogate form HERE. Mail or deliver surrogate forms which MUST be in the Washington State Democratic Party office by 5:00 p.m., Friday, March 20.
If you are a delegate from your precinct caucus, you will be expected to attend the legislative district caucus which will be held on April 15, 2016 and county convention. Some legislative districts adopt platforms and resolutions in addition to electing delegates to the Congressional District caucus and state convention. Counties debate platform planks and resolutions and those that are passed are fed into the state convention deliberations. Whether or not you are a delegate from your precinct, you can find out who your legislative district representatives on the platform and resolutions committees are and contact them to insure your resolution is being considered. The more resolutions submitted on the same topic, the more likely it will be adopted at each level.
Republican Party Precinct Caucuses were held February 20. Republican legislative district caucuses and county conventions are being held on different days between March 12 and April 22. See schedule of county conventions HERE. Click HERE to find contacts for the Republican leadership in your county. Platforms and resolutions will be considered at the county and state convention. Download a Republican Party resolution HERE. A manual on the Republican Party Caucus/Convention cycle is available HERE. The Republican and Democratic Party caucus and convention processes are similar except that Democrats choose delegates to the national convention by the proportion of preferences for the candidates at the caucus levels and this year Republicans are electing national delegates at the state convention May 19-21 who will be represent the outcome of the state presidential primary election on May 24.