Run For Your Precinct is an educational endeavor devoted to the concept that the solution to our nation's most vital political issues lies at the precinct level.

Where to Start

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Let's assume you've read our home page and the pages it links to. Then what?

You might wonder if we're giving out the straight story. Or perhaps you're curious how things stand in your neck of the woods. Or maybe you're fully persuaded and want to get started right now. To whichever we say, great, here's what you do. Take a couple of minutes and see what your local or county Elections Office has up on its web site, assuming it has one. Do a Internet search using Google or whatever.

Some sites will have next to nothing in the way of information, while others will have a great deal. If they show election results, see if the precinct office was on the last primary (not the general) election ballot. If it's not there, then check the next most recent year's primary election. You might have to go back as far as three years. But on whichever year's primary ballot you find it, see who was elected in your precinct, if anyone, and how many other precincts went unfilled or uncontested. Here's a hint, if you find people being elected by five or less votes, it probably means they were write-in candidates. In all likelihood, you'll find many of the local precincts didn't elect committee men, and few precinct slots were hotly contested with multiple candidates (not write-in's). And if you don't find this to be the case, then please drop us a line. We'd like to learn about this exceptional area you live in.

All the same, the Elections site can only give you, at best, a partial picture of what's going on. The next step would be to go and observe meetings of your local party. (Understand, you can complain all you want about politics. But if you're unwilling to step out of your house, then you're not really serious.)

Now you may live in an area where they have few meetings. In the worst cases, precinct men are selected at “called meetings” or conventions. After these affairs, only a few elected executives might meet regularly, and their sessions may not be open to regular party members. Or conversely, you might have a local committee that gets together monthly, and their meetings may be open to everyone.

To find out how it is where you live, you’ll just need to make a phone call or two. This is all covered on our How to Run page. If you find local or county meetings are being held, and are open to the public, then find out the date and location of the next one and show up. It’s that simple. At the most, you might have to sign in as a guest.

Once you've observed a couple of meetings, you’ll begin to understand how things work. (Just don’t let it overly depress you. Good things take time.) At most meetings you’ll be free to enter into discussions, and occasionally they'll be enlightening. But keep in mind, a lot of talk is just talk; empty rhetoric. Take everything with a grain of salt - but be polite. If you are, and attend enough, you might get offered an appointment to an unfilled precinct. Ask for the precinct you live in, if it's available. If it isn't, then you'll have to decide if you have any qualms about representing a precinct you don't live in. (On this question there are respectable arguments to be made both pro and con.) All the same, in the next election cycle, look to run for your own precinct.

By attending a few meetings, you’ll learn who’s running the show in your area, how they go about it, and something about what they're trying to achieve. Pay attention to anything you hear about people's occupations, especially those of the committee's executives. Trust your gut instincts. If it seems like they're only trying to hold on to a base of power, then your assessment might be right.

Another thing to do is to learn about the person who's representing your neighborhood. You may already know a good bit from having looked at the Elections Office's web site. In any case, you'll want to know how the guy came to represent your precinct. Was he elected or appointed? If he was elected, was his name on the ballot, or was he a write-in? If he was appointed, does he live within the precinct?

If he does live in the precinct, take a stab at learning if he's closely tied to county or local government. Ask around or just introduce yourself to the guy. Mention what you do for a living, or did, if you’re retired. Most people will generally respond by telling you what they do, or did. If this guy doesn't or describes something vague, it may be a tip off that he's tied into the public sector.

Remember, this is politics. The other guy may be good company and a fine fellow. But how is he representing you? If he’s compromised by ties to government, then on crucial votes, he may be backing candidates and policies that will deliver bigger government. So you might be doing your precinct and party a big favor by replacing him in the next election.

Don’t worry. If he wants to, he'll still be able to attend party meetings in the future. Just not as your precinct representative.