Local Party Organization: Guide to Precinct Meetings

Don’t know where your precinct is? Click this link to find it, based on your address.

The organization of the Democratic Party can seem very confusing and difficult to understand. There are many different officers, special terminology, and navigating all this can be one of the biggest barriers to getting involved. This guide will explain what Precinct Meetings are and how they’re important to the Democratic Party.

SUMMARY

  • Precincts are the foundation of the Democratic Party and correspond to where you vote (essentially your neighborhood).
    • We need OR members to be present in their precincts in order to have representation of a new generation and progressive agenda.
  • A Precinct Committee is a group of 5 or more registered Democrats living in a precinct who attend the Precinct Organization Meeting. This meeting is held annually, and occurs in almost all of Buncombe County on February 25.
    • We are trying to make sure that at least 5 OR members from each precinct can attend their 2/25 meeting.
    • Look up your precinct assignment with this tool from the Board of Elections to make sure you attend the correct meeting.
  • Precinct Committee Officers are selected at the meeting to help organize the precinct, represent it at the county party, and strengthen the party structure.
    • Beyond OR members attending their precinct meetings, we also want OR members to take on these leadership roles to help begin this process to revitalize democracy in NC.
  • Delegates to the County Convention are selected from each precinct at the Precinct Organization Meetings.
    • The Buncombe County Convention is April 8.
  • Delegates will vote on new County Party Officers, State Executive Committee members, and resolutions at the County Convention.

IMPORTANT DATES

  • Precinct Organization Meetings for Buncombe County
  • Buncombe County Convention
    • April 8th at 10 am

WHAT IS A PRECINCT?

Everything starts at the local precinct level.

At YOUR precinct meeting you can help elect leaders – or become one yourself – and help write and pass resolutions which can then become part of our state platform – resolutions like a $15 minimum wage, a demand for single payer universal health care, and end to for-profit prisons, a carbon tax to drastically slow climate change, and more.

On Election Day, every voter has an assigned location to cast their ballot. This polling location is based on where you live, so you and all your neighbors likely vote at the same place.  In North Carolina, the lowest level of Democratic party organizing is centered around that polling location, which we call your precinct.

All power in the Democratic Party derives from your precinct. Officers at the state party level, contents of the state party platform, even what the party rules are – that all begins with your local precinct.  Your precinct helps enable democracy by staffing polling workers, recruiting election day volunteers, and helping make sure issues in your community are represented in the party.

A precinct committee is made up of at least five registered Democrats from a precinct. Of those five members, three will be selected as precinct committee officers. These officers are selected by other registered Democrats from the precinct in odd-numbered year, or at any meeting to fill a vacancy. The officer positions and some of their associated responsibilities are:

  • Chair – preside over meetings, establish goals for the precinct, organize voters in the precinct, attend county party meetings, update precinct members on party activity, recruit precinct election officials;
  • Vice Chair – fill in for chair when necessary, perform community outreach for precinct activities, attend county party meetings;
  • Secretary/Treasurer – keep all records of precinct meetings (including minutes), report any fundraising to the county party, prepare reports on precinct activity.

There’s a lot more these officers do, but these are just some of the basic responsibilities.  If you don’t know what precinct you’re in, you can use this tool from the North Carolina Board of Elections to find your precinct assignment.  Once you locate yourself, look for your precinct number on the right hand side of the screen – see the example below:

precinct assignment tool

 


ANNUAL PRECINCT MEETING  FEBRUARY 25

Every year, each precinct across the state meets at least once. For Buncombe county, these meetings will happen in groups of precincts (see Buncombe County Precinct Meeting Locations), mostly on February 25th. Visit the link above to find your meeting location.

In odd-numbered years, each precinct with at least five registered Democrats in attendance will have a quorum – enough people to form a precinct committee.  Members of each precinct with five members will elect precinct officers (listed above), as well as select delegates to represent the precinct at the county convention (more on that later).  

These precinct meetings are a great opportunity to see grassroots organizing in action, and participate in strengthening the democratic party! Even if you don’t want to be a precinct officer, going to your meeting will help the party grow and represent your neighborhood in the year to come.


COUNTY CONVENTION DELEGATES

At the annual precinct organizing meeting, each precinct will send a number of delegates to the Buncombe County Convention.  Being selected as a delegate is usually straightforward – each precinct has a decent number, usually more than the number of people who attend the precinct meeting.  Showing up to your precinct meeting and being a delegate will give you the ability to vote at the county convention, which will be held on April 8th. In odd-numbered years, the county convention is responsible for electing a new set of county party officers who will manage county-wide party business for the next two years. The convention will also elect state executive committee members to represent our county at state meetings.  

Resolutions passed by each precinct will also be discussed at the convention.  Any resolution passed by the convention will be sent to the district and eventually to the state level – then hopefully into the state party platform!  


BEING A PRECINCT OFFICER

Once you attend your precinct meeting and are elected as a precinct officer, you will be expected to carry out the responsibilities of the office you hold. Precinct officers are responsible for organizing their precinct to help elect Democrats, first and foremost.  If you are elected Chair or Vice Chair, you will be a voting member of the County Executive Committee, which gives you a say in how the county party operates during the year.  

For example, County Commissioner Al Whitesides was elected by precinct officers from District 1 in a special election this year – a few dozen people had the power to choose a commissioner for the district.  State Senator Terry Van Duyn and Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger were both initially elected in these types of “special elections” as well.

Precinct officers are leaders in the county democratic party and can end up doing a lot more than what the job description entails.  It all depends on you and how active in the party you want to be!